Drones as Tools for Biological Pest Control


“Each Cotesia flavipes release flight, for example, takes approximately 20 minutes and covers 25 hectares.”

Luis Scarpari, founder and general director of Sardrones.

Luis Gustavo Silva Scarpari is founder and general director of Sardrones, a company that releases insects to control agricultural pests using drones.

Scarpari is an agronomist from the Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz” (Esalq/USP), with an MBA in business management from Fundação Getúlio Vargas.

AgriBrasilis – How is the dispersion of biological agents performed using drones?

Luis Scarpari – We release some biological agents and each one has its peculiarity. In the case of Cotesia flavipes, which is used to control the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis caterpillar), we release it through biodegradable cups, respecting the best time of the day, temperature and humidity required by the biological agent. This dispersion is carried out in points (8 to 10 points) per hectare, in a homogeneous way.

In the case of eggs, the category in which the biological agents Trichogramma spp. (wasps that parasitize caterpillar eggs), Telenomus podisi, and lacewings, the release is done in bulk, also uniformly.

Sardrones carries out releases accompanied by an application developed by the company, in which the producer can access all flight information, such as georeferenced points, temperature at the time of the flight, start and end times, area flown on the day or in a specific period, achievement of the contract, etc.

AgriBrasilis – How long does it take to release biological agents per hectare?

Luis Scarpari – Each Cotesia flavipes release flight, for example, takes approximately 20 minutes and covers 25 hectares. We apply an average of 250 ha/day because the application window is restricted to the first hours of the day due to temperature.

In the case of releasing eggs, we managed to carry out more than 600 ha/day because the temperature restrictions are much smaller and the dispersion is in bulk, facilitating operations.

AgriBrasilis – How many insects are released in each operation?

Luis Scarpari – In the case of Cotesia flavipes, 8 cups/ha are released, which is equivalent to 6,000 individuals/ha. As we release an average of 25 ha/flight, 150,000 individuals are dispersed on each flight.

In the case of eggs, this dose varies greatly depending on the culture, from 100,000 to 150,000 individuals/ha, reaching dispersion of more than 2.5 million individuals per flight.

Container used to release Cotesia flavipes

AgriBrasilis – What are the advantages in terms of efficiency and costs in agricultural operations carried out with drones?

Luis Scarpari – There are many advantages, for example:

– Less human exposure to exhausting and dangerous work;

– Higher income/day;

– Greater efficiency in pest control due to better dispersion of biological agents;

– Access to areas that human beings cannot reach or have greater difficulty;

– Be an option to increase the use of biologicals to the detriment of chemicals;

– Being able to apply at the best hours of the day.


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