People often ask us what type of nutrition we use on our plants. It's a very simple answer - our plants are sprayed weekly with Neptune's Fish and Seaweed. And on a monthly basis we spray a product called Quantum, a probiotic for plants that adds microbes to the soil.
Traditional farm spraying is time consuming and labor intensive
However, applying these products can be very time consuming. For many years, we used a portable 10 gallon sprayer on a small wagon. We had to fill the tank several times and pull it through each row while spraying the plants. This process was extremely time consuming and required a few days and several hours per day to complete the entire farm. In addition, it required tremendous strength to pull the tank when it was full! Not to mention that the sprayer sometimes disconnected in the middle of spraying, leaving us smelling like fish and seaweed!
Last year we purchased a 100 gallon, self-mixing sprayer. The sprayer is fantastic. However, it does need to be hooked up to a pickup truck or tractor to be pulled. The hose reaches to the end of our 100 foot rows. However, it takes 3 people to efficiently spray each row in a timely manner. One person pulls the sprayer hose down the rows and sprays, the 2nd person guides the hose and pulls it back in order to prevent tangling, and the 3rd person drives the tractor or truck, inching it up to reach each row. This sprayer saves significant time and energy vs. the 10 gallon sprayer. However, it still takes hours of work and 3 people to accomplish the spraying.
During our 2018 season, one day we arrived at Stony Brook University Hospital for our weekly indoor farm stand. A person approached us in the loading dock and asked if we would be open to speaking to his friend who was using drone technology at local farms for spraying. We were intrigued!!
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's ... a drone!
A few days later, Chris Logan & Mikey Jaya from Drone Grown International visited us at the farm. They demonstrated how their drone can save us a significant amount of time, energy, labor, and money by replacing our sprayers with a drone. Within an hour or 2, our entire farm can be sprayed.
The drone technology is programmed with our farm landscape, the tank is filled with our products, and the drone launches. It hovers right over the plants and sprays, not impacting the plants in any way. When we walk through the plants using our 10 gallon sprayer, many plants were unfortunately crushed by the cart we were using. The long hose on the 100 gallon sprayer impacts some plants with the heavy hose. We also need to carefully and slowly navigate through some of the plants that have vines such as zucchini and squash. Using drone technology at local farms avoids all of this! It is clean, efficient and timely!
Local farms use drone technology
For the 2019 farm season, we plan on using drone technology to spray our plant nutrition products. We are working with Drone Grown International to measure the impact of spraying by use of a drone vs. our traditional spraying methods. Utilizing this drone technology in agriculture is very exciting and allows us to apply our saved hours of spraying to many other high priority farm tasks! We will report back on the effectiveness of drone technology at local farms this summer! And don't hesitate to stop by to see the drone in action! It really is cool technology that we are excited to apply at HeartBeet Farms!