In March, the FAA found that 21% of commercial drones were being used for agricultural purposes. And drones can do a lot more for agriculture than just map fields and measure crop yields ― they can also distribute herbicides, plant trees, spray bug repellent … and more.
But you can’t just get a spraying drone and start destroying pesky weeds: There are some additional FAA rules, like Part 137, you must follow. Haven’t heard of Part 137? No worries — here’s the rundown.
What is Part 137?
Part 137 regulations apply to both private and commercial agricultural aircraft, and pilots must become certified in order to operate aircraft that fall under Part 137.
According to the FAA, drones being used for agriculture are required to comply with 14 CFR Part 137, “Agricultural Aircraft Operations.” Remember: The FAA considers drones aircraft.
Under Part 137, the FAA defines Agricultural Aircraft Operations as the operation of an aircraft for the purpose of:
- dispensing any economic poison, which is “(1) any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any insects, rodents, nematodes, fungi, weeds, and other forms of plant or animal life or viruses, except viruses on or in living man or other animals, which the Secretary of Agriculture shall declare to be a pest, and (2) any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant.
- dispensing any other substance intended for plant nourishment, soil treatment, propagation of plant life, or pest control.”
- engaging in dispensing activities directly affecting agriculture, horticulture, or forest preservation, but not including the dispensing of live insects.
If you’re using a drone for crop monitoring or crop photography then you don’t need to comply with Part 137. However, if your operation falls into the above Agricultural Aircraft Operations, Part 137 certification is necessary. Continue reading about this new rule.
(Source: Drone 360)