The fall armyworm has finally found its new match in the XAG precision UAS spraying solution. As an invasive pest that thrives in tropic and sub-tropic climates, its presence is registered in over 100 countries affecting tens of millions of hectares of crops around the world. XAG has taken decisive action by unveiling its new smart agriculture drone in farming. The drone hopes to tackle the fall armyworm with the use of their smart precision UAS spraying kit.
Back in 2018, December 18th, The European Commission Directorate for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), announced a financial support package for the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). The support aims at managing the fall armyworm spread in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to FAO, as of 2018, there were 37 million hectares of maize crop planted every year, all of which are at risk of the pest.
Africa hard-hit by FAW
The fall armyworm scientifically known as Spodoptera frugiperda was a major issue for the Americas, only for 2016 to see it expand into an African problem. The pest had become a consistent complaint among commercial crop farmers in over 43 countries. Clearly if unchecked, they could jeopardize the continent’s food security and nutrition targets significantly, adversely affecting the livelihood of 300 million people.
The larval stage of the pest feeds on 80 different plant species, including sorghum, wheat, maize, rice, sugarcane, and a wide range of horticultural crops. It attacks the stems, leaves, and cobs of the crops inflicting critical damage to the crop. The worm attacks the growing crop in all growth stages or temperatures making it even worse.
Drone as a safe tool to combat the FAW outbreak
Smart agricultural drones come in handy when it comes to crop protection through spraying. For one, their environmental impact is very minimal and they save the farmer a great deal of time and effort. In some African countries, notably South Africa, Zambia, etc, agricultural service providers and professional farmers are exploiting modern-day drone technology to carry out chemical sprays so as to safeguard their crops.
The drones operate on advanced Positioning capabilities and can autonomously fly over rough or uneven terrain adjusting to the different spraying conditions of various plant species. That way, people can avoid toiling hard while risking exposing themselves to health complications from spraying or strained backs.
To combat the FAW on a large scale, the smart XAG UAS options that cover several hectares in a single hour. Thanks to technology, operations can happen at night when the caterpillars come out to devour the crops. Finally, the drone maximizes the pesticide droplets when spraying thus covering a large surface area with accurate precision. That way all surfaces of the crop – both front and back of leaf and stem covered.
Finally, combating the FAW, cannot be done through a simple set of spraying tools, but their impact can be greatly minimized through technology. Eradicating them completely will require a holistic IPM approach and international cooperation given their migratory nature.