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The profession of flying a sprayer in the West

DONG THAP – After a call from farmers, Nguyen Tan Dat and his team members fully charged 3 batteries, put the sprayer on the car, and headed to the plum garden.

The luggage of Dat’s spraying team (32 years old, Phu Dien commune, Thap Muoi district) was very mobile, including a motorbike carrying a 23 kg sprayer, a backpack containing a controller, books, and another vehicle carrying batteries, drug-making tools. The drone is the “travel paper” facilitated by local authorities to travel during social distancing, but they must comply with 5K.

At the new customer’s plum garden, Dat is in charge of piloting the drone. Realizing that the plum trees were planted in a straight line, easy to observe, he quickly chose an active flight solution instead of positioning the machine to program the flight path.

The profession of flying a sprayer in the West
Nguyen Tan Dat controls a drone to spray pesticides at a plum garden. Photo: Ngoc Tai

While Dat brought the machine to the open ground, checked the nozzle, was about to take off, Phan Quoc Cuong – his assistant, received medicine from the garden owner, mixed a small number of drugs together to test the solubility. Then Cuong was mixed into large cans divided into 3 sprays, 20 liters each time.

For a better visibility, Dat climbed a nearby tamarind tree and then controlled the machine into the plum garden. The first flight does not control the direction when it encounters the wind, Dat for the second plane. The medicine drops from the top of the tree with strong, even force, then the machine moves to the next tree.

The driver is highly focused to both observe the machine and process the parameters of battery life, remaining amount of medicine … displayed on the controller in 3 languages ​​(Vietnamese-English-Chinese). Cuong rhythmically coordinated to bring the medicine into the bottle, change the battery. It only took 15 minutes for three bottles of medicine to be sprayed for a garden of 3 (3,000 m2).

After finishing the work, the two collected the tools and carried them to the car, and then moved to the next field to spray with nutrients in the post-harvest stage of rice. At the end of August, the rice fields began to turn “chicken fat” with only the sound of airplanes “humming” diligently. After a few turns of flying in and out, the mission was completed. “Fast, neat, efficient. Farming is now very healthy,” said the owner of the field, Mr. Mai Van Tuan.

For rice, spraying time will be faster, averaging 7 minutes per hectare because the amount of drug used is low, a 20-liter tank per hectare. In addition, just need to locate for the first time, the machine will program the flight path and spray automatically.

At dusk, Dat brought the money for spraying for two days to count and then shared: “It’s 5 million. This machine belongs to the owner, the crew is divided by 10% of the revenue each, working out 250,000 VND per day but healthy. people than manual labor”.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Dat has only sprayed drugs in the commune. But in return, he received more orders, because farmers limited the field. “Customers trust them to call only the place to put the medicine in the grass, the rice field. After spraying, I send a picture to report to them,” Dat said.

Dat climbs the tamarind tree to control the sprayer. Photo: Ngoc Tai

According to Dat, spraying by machine is quite gentle. Instead of carrying each spray bottle, the sprayer inhales and sticks the drug to his body. “Since I was a child, I have been attached to the fields, seeing farmers carry a spray bottle with many toxic chemicals, so when I do this job, I have a small joy in helping people reduce their hardships,” he said.

Dat has been piloting the drone for nearly a year, after experiencing many professions such as agricultural engineer, pesticide marketer, mechanic, driver… He told about the difficulty of his new and “hot” profession. This is the sensitivity to high-tech equipment, the hard work of constantly moving. “Easy to use, but when they unload, it’s also very stressful,” Dat said, and mentioned common errors such as flickering radar signals, loss of all signals, clogged nozzles, running out of battery, loss of control .. .

According to Dat, unlike drones, spraying drones fly lower, making it easier to get entangled in trees. With automatic mode, the machine automatically stops flying when it detects obstacles, which takes a long time to spray. But when the automatic mode is turned off, unfortunately, there is a technical problem, the machine will take control and automatically return to the starting point. Along the way, it can hit a tree and fall down.

Dat told the funny situation that happened half a month ago: “Drone lost control, to reduce the damage, I decided to follow the drone to find an emergency landing. But it took 15 minutes to fly around when When the battery runs out, it stops going crazy.” After that time, both were more careful when controlling.

Before entering the profession, Dat took an accelerated course and was accompanied by a “master” for the first time. After that, he taught himself how to handle situations arising from his seniors. An implicit convention, when working for the spraying team, they will be trained for free, but if they work on their own, they have to pay a tuition fee of 15 million VND. “I am eager to buy a machine because the demand is very high and the machine is lacking,” Dat said.

Dat’s spraying team consists of 19 drones concentrated in large fields such as Thap Muoi and Tam Nong districts. Who’s the house will be in charge of spraying there to ensure that “commune ward is separated from commune ward”. On average, each drone costs 400-700 million VND, the service price ranges from 180,000-200,000 VND per hectare for rice fields. Each machine can serve 70 hectares a day. During the rice crop, farmers need to spray 6-7 times. After deducting labor costs, the server owner will recover capital after 1-1.5 years.

Cuong poured the medicine into the bottle on the sprayer. Photo: Ngoc Tai

Le Quoc Trung, 34 years old, in Tam Nong district, Dong Thap province, and a group of friends established a flying team for more than 3 years, now has gathered 30 drones and expanded to An Giang and Kien Giang provinces. In the early days of its establishment, Trung directly controlled the spraying drone, later retired to do management duties.

According to Trung, drone manufacturers have made many improvements to make them smarter, classifying them from severe, moderate, and mild pest infestation, automatically distributing the amount of spray more or less. In addition, the machine can also be applied to spread manure, sow seed to optimize uniformity, avoid loss, and reduce environmental impact. “If using a sprayer, it will be easier to collect the medicine shells, not throw them indiscriminately like now, and help garden owners reduce the amount of medicine used by about 20%,” Trung said.

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