We made it to episode 200! Drones have become a sort of symbol for modern ag technology whether over-hyped or legitimate. Michael Ott, CEO of Rantizo, proves that there is little room to be a drone skeptic anymore. Rantizo uses drones with a ten foot boom sprayer to spray, seed and sometimes even pollinate crops. Their main customers are retailers interested in expanding their territory by virtue of ease of application and mobility of equipment.
“We can get into fields where nobody else can….We’re doing a demo tomorrow, it’s going to be super sloppy and muddy. That’s totally fine. We can get out and apply in those situations.” - Michael Ott
The inputs carried by the drone are tailored to keep its weight below 55 pounds. At this weight, Michael says he “can train pretty much anyone to be an operator” through a 2-3 day course. The drone flies itself requiring the operator to only hold the controller rather than actively maneuver the drone. The light weight does result in multiple trips to refill tanks to be able to cover a field. But in this instance that doesn’t serve as a disadvantage. Using this technology enables the farmer to precisely deliver the inputs to specific areas in the field that require them.
“So rather than spray the whole field, we sprayed just a portion of it. So there’s a significant advantage for the farmer, especially because we can dramatically reduce your input costs.” - Michael Ott
Another added benefit is the mechanical air movement of the crops caused by the drone. This slight movement allows the spray to better cover beyond the top of the plants. A coordinated effort with this equipment can keep pace with what most tractors are doing. Does it sound too good to be true yet? Regulatory restrictions represent the biggest obstacle to drone spraying operations. While Rantizo is licensed by the FAA there are individual state requirements that can involve anything as simple as filling out a form to 500 hours of experience. With Rantizo’s operator course they help you find and meet all of the requirements for each state. There is very little these drones can’t do and at a fraction of the cost. This is the future of agriculture.
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