UAV to Spray Pesticide

UAVs to Spray Pesticide on Crops

UAV spraying is effective tool for applying pesticides on crops. UAVs especially shine when fields are flooded with water, making entry of motorized vehicle to the field impractical or when treating crops that grow in steep hills.

UAV pesticide spraying is becoming increasingly available for specialty crops and row-crop production. Recently, UAV manufacturers such as DJI have started offering high payload rotor UAVs that include sprayers.

Spraying with UAVs is a unique practice since it is conducted autonomously. UAV sprayers are equipped with almost all the parts of any other sprayer: a tank, a pump to push liquid through the hoses to the nozzles, filters and a pressure gauge. But there are limitations, mostly on the size of these components because of the power required to keep the UAV sprayer in flight mode for a reasonable time.

UAVs carry unique characteristics when applying liquid products. First, the application is different from ground-based machines but not the same as typical aerial applications completed with helicopters or crop dusters. These small UAVs are typically flown 3 to 10 feet above the crop or target area with their rotors creating turbulence or what we call vortices. While the turbulence created by the rotors can help spray droplets penetrate into a crop canopy and provide good coverage on the top and bottom of leaves, these vortices cause drift concerns. Research is being conducted to determine spray deposition, coverage and drift from UAV sprayers in comparison to other methods used for pesticide application. Unique features for UAV sprayers include vertical or altitude adjustments for topography or height, autonomous swath control, and safety.

UAV Drone

In general, spray UAVs for applying products to row-crops will have 4 to 5-gallon tanks with a spray width between ranging 10 and 15 feet. The application rate will be 1 to 2 gallons per acre or set in accordance with product labels. Today, multi-rotor UAVs have a flight time of around 15 – 20 minutes allowing a tank to be dispersed before needing to land to refill plus change out batteries for the next flight. Most manufacturers provide estimates on application rates in minutes per acre with most UAVs spraying an acre within 3 to 4 minutes.

UAVs can be used to clean up fields, spray drowned out spots, control resistant weed escapes, or other small areas within a field versus using a high-clearance sprayer.

Today, the mapping process is more accurate and efficient given the development of AI representing an essential step forward in technology.

Companies developing and testing these systems have been successful in applying to the FAA for an exemption under Section 333 resulting in the FAA potentially issuing a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA for Certificate of Authorization) to facilitate testing in the United States.

Farmers and ranchers can purchase spray UAVs today but, at a minimum, you will need following three licenses to operate:

  1. Private Pesticide Applicator License in Ohio
  2. Part 107 Certificate through the FAA
  3. Part 137 Certificate through the FAA

Further, owners are required to register their UAVs (any UAV between 0.55 and 55 pounds) with the FAA:

However, if the UAV weighs over 55 pounds it must be registered with the FAA under Rule 47.

Yamaha RMAX and FAZER

  • 2- or 4-stroke gas engine depending upon model
  • 6.3, 4.2, or 8.5 on-board storage (2 tanks) depending upon model
  • 0.3 to 0.5 gpm discharge rate
  • Granular material application option
  • Legal in CA to apply crop protection products. Purchase service from Yamaha.


  • Electric with 8 rotors
  • 2.6 gallon tank
  • Spray Width = 4 – 6 m spray width
  • 4 nozzle boom

Hylio AgroUAV

  • Electric with 8 rotors
  • 4.5- gallon tank
  • Typically 1 gpm
  • 15-foot spray width
  • 6-nozzle boom

While there is still work on application quality, spray UAVs provide unique capabilities over manned aircraft and ground spraying equipment. To learn how we can help you register your UAV then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or click HERE.

UAS Agriculture


The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in agriculture is making farms increasingly profitable. UAVs are used to control pest populations, monitor crop health, and develop cropping plans that are specific to your fields. 

Compared to traditional fixed wing aircraft, UAVs can fly lower, slower, and hover in place for extended periods of time. All of which enhances the precision, speed, cost, and safety of pesticide application. In fact, studies suggest that pesticide application by a UAV could be up to five times faster than traditional fixed-wing aircraft.

Aerial Pesticide– The fact that UAVs can fly significantly closer to crops without causing damage to them reduces the concern for drift of chemicals into areas when they are not wanted.

  1. Increased Accuracy– The UAVs ability to discharge pesticides with such accuracy has decreased the need for applications that have previously been hand-applied by people. These benefits may also result in sUASs supplanting uses that have traditionally required hand-application for certain pesticides.
  2. Decreased Drift– UAVs limit the risk of pesticides drifting to non-target areas, potentially poisoning non-resistant neighboring crops or agricultural workers. Drift can be caused by pesticides being released at improper altitudes, at inappropriate ambient temperatures, or with incorrect droplet sizes.
  3. Improved Crop Health– UAVs can essentially make an aerial map of your field and provide a detailed report showing the location and percentage of areas that may be suffering due to insects, lack of water, or other detrimental things. This analysis can show farmers problematic areas to key an eye on. UAVs analyses that can show you how to spot weed and diseases, identify pest-infested areas and even help you count plants and trees.
  4. Topography of Fields– Allows farmers and agronomists to create an overview of their fields, to let them mark points of interest on their field (such as ponds, or barns) and calculate how large certain areas on their fields are. Besides being drastically faster than traditional measures, drone data analyses offer exact numbers and percentages together with the precise location of healthy and problematic areas.


The technology of UAVs is moving forward so rapidly that the laws, rules, and regulations have not been able to keep-up. As a result, a patchwork of exemptions, waivers, and label modifications is currently required for a commercial entity to aerially apply pesticides via UAVs.

There are rules and limitations, among others, on operational hours, location, and daylight for UAV use. Some, but not all, of these limitations may be waived by the FAA Administrator.

Many of the FAA regulations on aerial pesticide application have not been updated in almost half a century and fail to accommodate advancements in technology, especially with UAVs. But the FAA has created waivers and exemptions that can be requested to use UAVs in a way that will benefit farms.


FAA laws have not kept up with technology however, the FAA has created three general ways to ask for permission to be excluded from a particular rule. Be requesting an exemption and/or waiver a UAV operator could use to navigate to aerially dispense pesticides. The type of waiver required depends largely on which of UAV used. The FAA will waive traditional requirements traditionally placed on UAVs, so long as the Administrator determines that “the proposed [sUAS] operation can safely be conducted under the terms of [the] waiver.”

There are essentially three different types of waivers that can be asked for under Part 107. These waivers are the easiest and fastest to, however, they are more limited in the restrictions that may be waived. For UAVs over 55 lbs., a Section 333 Exemption is needed so it can be flown. With a Part 11 Exemption the FAA can exempt an individual from any FAA regulation. However, obtaining a Part 11 waiver requires passing through a vast array of FAA regulations.

Setting up a drone program can be daunting and leave you frustrated. So don’t try and go it alone, get help from the UAV law professionals at the Dunaway Law Group. Contact us at or 480-389-6529 to discuss your goals and how we can help you reach them.