Paul Revere said, one if by land, two if by sea, but now startup Rantizo has received swarm approval for up to three. That’s three drones for aerial applications of crop protection or seed products.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Rantizo a waiver for multiple unmanned aerial vehicle operation with one pilot and one visual observer.
“To our knowledge, we are the first company with approval for more than one-to-one universal application. We have approval for the entire contiguous U.S., and we are getting application contractors up and running in a dozen states,” Rantizo CEO Michael Ott says. “These advancements will be both industry leading for agricultural technology and drone spraying, and also monumental for farmers needing in-field applications to protect their crops.”
When the company started doing drone based applications, they were able to apply 3 acres/hour. After designing booms and upgrade kits, that increased to 14 acres/hour. The swarm capability adds up to Rantizo being able to apply up to 40 acres an hour or 400 acres a day.
“Our system has been used on corn, soybeans, berries, hemp and vineyards. And swarming is the next big thing for us to deliver efficient applications,” Ott says.
When making applications in the field, the drones are required and programmed to stay 100’ apart. They are also outfitted with collision avoidance. The multiple UAVs applying simultaneously opens up more opportunities for the business.
“Farmers have appreciated our solution being a precise application, and we knew tripling our application rate would be a big step in being able to spray larger areas and expand the ability to spray in hard to reach fields, such as bottoms that are muddy,” Ott says. “Previously, our typical jobs were 5 to 30 acre fields, but with swarming, we’ll see much larger fields—80 to 200 acre jobs.”
The Rantizo contractors use a flat rate of charging $150/hour per drone. The Fly & Apply platform is built to be compatible with many imagery services, and Rantizo is able to take a shapefile as the input and then output a custom application map.
Later this summer, the company will launch another advancement in its efficiency with the Mix & Fill auto-tendering station.
This will automate the refill process, and the company says it should increase productivity to 60 acres per hour or 600 acres/day.