Military know-how leads to ag spray chopper

FARGO, N.D. — The skills David Gan acquired while developing military drone technology in Israel is now being applied to precision agriculture in North America.

“My company has a long history of building military (unmanned aerial vehicles) since 1989. Now we have a new company in California to serve North America,” Gan said at the Big Iron Farm Show in Fargo, N.D., where he was promoting his TopGan drones.

Of the many exhibitors promoting ag drones at Big Iron, the TopGan booth drew the most farmer attention, primarily because of his eight-motor, battery powered helicopter sprayer.

The Vertigo sprayer carries either 28 pounds of equipment or a spray rig with a four gallon capacity.

Four gallons isn’t even a tiny drop in the big bucket for prairie farmers, but farmers were interested in the precision aspect of the Vertigo Sprayer.

“It’s very specific in hitting the target spot,” Gan said.

“You do a prescription map that tells the UAV exactly where to apply. These are used a lot in fruit and vegetable crops and especially in wineries.”

Gan said the Vertigo can fly in, apply the crop protection product precisely where it’s needed on a small problem spot and then fly out again. There’s no human or machinery in the field to spread disease or weeds or crush crops.

“You decide the nozzles, volume, pressure and target,” he said.

“It flies three to four feet above the ground. The down force from the blades push the chemical down into the crop. The price is between US$8,000 and $12,000 depending on the options and how you want to set it up.”

The typical setup includes six diffuse atomization nozzles, a booster pump and a dispersion spray system. It can spray up to three acres per minute at a maximum spray rate of .75 litres per minute.

“We’re also involved in all types of fixed wing and helicopters drones for short distance and long distance,” he said.

“At this show we’re mainly selling our V3, which is just for agriculture. It has NDVI sensors, 4K-high definition cameras on three-axis Gimbal for better quality.

“Flight time is 30 minutes. It’s about US$4,000 with GPS, sensors and cameras.

“Our high-end helicopters are all GPS guided and can fly an assignment without assistance from the pilot.”

The farmer sets up waypoints and then lets the helicopter fly itself. Data can be used for 3D mapping or NDVI resolution. It’s accurate down to one foot. The image is two centimetres per pixel.

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