The Pollination of the Future?


New advances in technology have impacted nearly every industry. After all, you can hardly turn on the news without hearing about the latest developments in drones and self-driving cars. But, to date, there is not a lot of concrete progress in the actual deployment of these technologies for consumers.

The good news is that we are seeing progress in agricultural applications of new technology. So, while we probably won’t be putting our cars on autopilot anytime soon, those in the agriculture industry have started taking advantage of exciting new technology, like pollination via drone.

What is drone pollination?

Dropcopter, an aerial pollination company for the agriculture industry, has developed the technology to pollinate orchard crops via unmanned aircraft systems. So far, their methods have been incredibly effective.

Dropcopter claims that their specially designed delivery drones can “spread pollen directly over the tree canopy right where it needs to be, reducing waste and improving efficiency.” As a result, they’ve been able to increase fruit and nut sets by 25-60%.

This exciting technology can be used to help offset the declining bee pollination, as well as pollinate crops when bees typically wouldn’t, like during cold weather and at night. This can result in doubling the short bloom window of certain trees.

How does it work?

In an interview with Growing Produce, Dropcopter’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mike Winch, talked more about the process for gathering pollen, saying, “One of the primary things that we have to do before identifying that we’re going to be able to work on a given crop is figure out how we’re going to gather the pollen in order to get that job done. In some cases, that’s much more difficult than others.”

Many times, a tree is shaken when it’s in bloom so that pollen can be collected from the flowers that fall from it. From there, Winch says, “The pollen goes through a purification process, which has a couple of advantages, especially for crops like pears that actually can have disease spread between trees by pollen.”

And from a grower’s perspective, the process couldn’t be easier. Growing Produce also talked to a Dropcopter customer who said, “It is really simple. They just show up, set the drone on a landing area, and program in your orchard and load your flight plan. They load the pollen into the copter and take off flying. It’s really quick.”

What types of crops can be pollinated with this technology?

Currently, Dropcopter is using drone pollination technology on apples, almonds, cherries, and pears. If you have customers that you think could benefit from these drone pollination services, refer them to the contact page on Dropcopter’s website so they can request additional information.