Yamaha brings their crop dusting helicopter drone to the U.S.

Yamaha Helicopter Drone

Above: A Yamaha helicopter drone used in the Napa Valley to spray a fungicide over a vineyard. Screen grab from the Yamaha video below.

Yamaha helicopter drones have been used for 25 years in Japan for spraying chemicals over rice and other crops. Recently the company has been testing the aircraft in California’s Napa Valley to spray a preventative fungicide to keep powdery mildew from forming on grapes.

It makes you wonder if a helicopter drone would ever be used to spray or drop water or retardant on a wildfire. In 2015 Lockheed Martin and K-Max demonstrated the use of a full size drone, an optionally-piloted K-MAX, to haul external loads and drop water.

K-MAX remotely piloted dipping water
A remotely-piloted K-MAX helicopter refills a water bucket during a demonstration October 14, 2015 east of Boise, ID.

4 thoughts on “Yamaha brings their crop dusting helicopter drone to the U.S.”

  1. I have serious doubts there is an aerial pesticide label for the fungicide at the ultra low volume application being made, not to mention the potential for a huge drift problem.

    1. Mr. Lavender: that is a serious charge that an organization would apply a pesticide in violation of the label, and then publish a video about it. Please provide facts to back up your claim by 1800 MDT July 5 or your comment will be deleted. (We strive for accuracy on Fire Aviation.)

      1. Mr. Gabbert;

        If my post is in question, then please allow someone to prove otherwise by posting the name of a product with an aerial label for ULV applications in California. In California, there are 414 registered fungicide products for grapes (per CDPR). Each label would have to be read to confirm it is legal to apply that product ULV aerially.

        However, being in the aerial application business for over 40 years and working with California aerial applicators for over 30 years, if there was a fungicide that could be applied ULV by air, aerial applicators would be doing it, primarily for economic reasons. They are not. This application is for sure ULV as the capacity of the drone is only four gallons.

        I can fully understand your desire for accuracy in articles you publish. Then, if mine is removed for that reason, you would need to also remove the other post related to this matter. Mr. Coldwater inaccurately stated larger drops produce more drift. This is simply not the case. The longer a spray droplet remains airborne or suspended in the air, the greater chance it will drift from the application site (1).

        There is a rapid decrease in drift potential of droplets larger than about 200 microns. Droplets smaller than 200, as with ULV applications, are very prone to drift. They are also referred to as driftable fines. As an example, the theoretical distance that spray droplets move laterally falling from 10 feet above the ground in air moving 3 mph would be only about 8 feet for a 400 micron droplet. In contrast, it would be 1,000 feet for a 20 micron (2). Mr. Coldwater’s post stated the opposite.

        The reason for my post was the ag-aviation industry works very hard to maintain a positive image. It is a constant battle against misinformed persons. When a company like Yamaha attempts to enter into this industry and possibly does it illegally or unprofessionally, it creates a negative image for aerial applicators.

        Aside from accurate posts, in my opinion the application in the video was illegal if the aircraft was actually applying a fungicide. The simplest way to confirm that would be a complaint to the California Department of Ag. Personally, I would not go down that road to prove a point that is considered true and accurate throughout the aerial application industry. I believe you should leave the posts to see where they lead.

        Bill Lavender

        (1) Aerial Applicator’s Manual: A National Pesticide Applicator Certification Study Guide
        Patrick J.Marer – National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Research Foundation – 2013. Page 34

        (2) Aerial Applicator’s Manual: A National Pesticide Applicator Certification Study Guide
        Patrick J.Marer – National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Research Foundation – 2013. Page 35

  2. Interesting. Having applied hundreds of thousands of pounds of sulfur both wettable (spray) and dust by airplane in my career this is a cool project. Sulfur is a Earth trace element, applied as a “natural” fungicide, not as a pesticide. By airplane the rate of application is 10 gallons per acre for liquid sulfur and dust is thirty pounds per acre for vineyards. The RMAX is using some type of fine atomized spray system. There has been good results with this type of application, ultra low volume in the application of pesticides. Very little chance of off target contact. Bigger the spray droplets the more likely they will drift. Here is the real advantage. IF you can control powdery mildew (STEALTH) no one will hardly notice this little radio controlled helicopter. Sulfur is non toxic, but its an irritant. No matter by ground or air it still gets in your eyes and burns for hours. I’m sure the farm vineyard workers won’t miss having to carry those cumbersome backpacks. circa 1920’s.

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