In crop production, there’s a system for just about everything: planting, tillage, spraying, harvesting and more. Farmers are accustomed to not just creating systems for everything they do in the field but doing so in a way that makes those systems all mesh well together toward an ultimate goal: the production of a high-value bumper crop. The systems approach has become a mainstay in modern crop production. And now there’s an agricultural drone system to add to that mix.
As precision agriculture technology has advanced in the three decades since its inception, there’s been an increase in the adoption of systems approaches to the in-season management of a crop. Each system — whether GPS guidance, yield monitoring or precision planting or applications — has multiple moving parts and must function on its own. But more importantly, it must also function well with all other systems on which a farmer relies to produce a crop.
Technology and machinery manufacturers also recognize this generations-long trend toward more systems in agriculture. While every manufacturer has its own systems — some of which “talk to one another” better than others — the overarching goal remains the same. The systems approach is fundamental to 21st century agriculture.
It was with that sort of purpose-driven mindset that Rantizo took about creating an agricultural drone system for chemical, fertilizer and seed applications in crop fields. Though its centerpiece is a DJI drone sprayer, the machine is just part of a larger system strategically designed to both accomplish what operators set out to do in a way that works together well with the other systems and digital ag platforms.
“The Rantizo drone system isn’t just a new way to apply crop inputs. It’s a way to evolve agronomic service businesses and provide a new level of service to farmers,” Rantizo CEO, Michael Ott said. “We want to work with ag retailers who know their customers best. We want to give them new tools to grow their businesses as trusted advisors.”
Components of the Rantizo agricultural drone system
With that goal in mind and starting with the DJI drone itself, Ott and the team at Rantizo developed a system that will provide all the essentials. Rantizo provides all the necessary components for their application services contractors to easily crop spray. It does so in a way that is both adaptable as technology and operator proficiencies evolve, and instinctive for ag retailers accustomed to purpose-driven systems for other tasks in raising a crop.
The components of the system directly contribute to the overarching goal of productive, efficient field applications in some ways that weren’t previously possible with conventional spraying systems. Each component uniquely contributes to the solutions Rantizo’s system offers its application services contractors, especially relating to applying inputs in irregularly shaped fields or on a spot-spraying basis during the growing season.
- DJI Agras MG-1P Drone Sprayer: Each multi-rotor drone is equipped with a 10-liter tank. A first-person view (FPV) camera, optional real-time kinetic (RTK) guidance system and autonomous features like terrain follow, collision avoidance and mission mapping help you keep an eye on the drone and make sure it’s going where it needs to go in the field.
- DJI Agras MG-1P Battery 12000P and Intelligent Battery Charger: Each battery provides enough power to typically operate a drone for up to 12 minutes in the field and requires 45 minutes to fully charge. Many of Rantizo’s application services contractors purchase six or 10 batteries to enable them to operate up to a full day in the field. A DJI Agras MG Series 4-Channel Intelligent Battery Charger charges two batteries simultaneously which facilitates replenishment of power with portable operation.
- Rantizo Upgrade Kit: Carbon fiber boom attachments and upgraded pumps that more than double each drone’s productivity, compared to off-the-shelf models, are available with the Rantizo Upgrade Kit. The 14-foot configurable boom extension easily attaches and detaches from the drone. Nozzles can be configured to precisely the application needs, as well.
- Dry Spreader: While Rantizo drone systems are ideal for many liquid chemical field applications, a dry spreader tank enables the application services contractor to apply cover crop seed, micronutrients, beneficial insects and other dry products. Simply swap out the liquid tank for the dry spreader attachment in a matter of minutes based on the type of applications needed.
- Mix & Fill Station: Rantizo’s Mix & Fill station decreases the amount of time it takes to precisely mix a chemical solution, refill payload, clean equipment and more — reducing downtime and increasing efficiency for commercial application needs. Through autonomous and continuous small-batch mixing it eliminates time spent pre-mixing large batches of chemicals, which allows the applicator to work around unexpected events such as weather delays without wasting a load.
- Load & Go Trailer: The 16 x 8.5-foot trailer has a 3,500-pound payload capacity, 220v/80-amp electrical power and includes storage for up to three drones, generator, work area, observation deck and water tank. It’s got everything needed to take to the field for drone application services. The Load & Go trailer’s three-drone capacity is intentional and important; Rantizo is the only company with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to conduct field applications in the U.S. with three-drone “swarms.”
- Rantizo Software. Keep track of not just field-level application data, but also calculate productivity, schedule jobs, initiate customer billing and keep track of all important application metrics in one platform. The Rantizo Contractor app is available to application services contractors on mobile and desktop devices. Keep track of all key agronomic and business performance data to maximize time and consistently exceed customer expectations.
Why the systems approach matters
In addition to aligning with the systems approach to which most progressive, tech-savvy farmers, agronomic service providers and ag retailers have become accustomed, the specific components of the Rantizo agricultural drone system enable its users to accomplish tasks that were previously not possible. With Rantizo, contractors and their team of pilot and applicators can do more work with fewer people on a timelier basis, ultimately providing a high-value service to farmer customers. Other service opportunities include:
- Maximized productivity on every acre by applying crop inputs to awkward acres, prevented-plant fields, field edges, buffer zones, fence lines and other areas that can’t be currently reached with conventional ground or aerial applications.
- Seamless integration with other technology and digital ag systems, including for mapping and other precision agriculture functions.
- Opportunities to optimize agronomic services by enabling specialists to focus on productivity and evolving business offerings.
- Competitive advantages of offering cutting-edge, high-profile services to farmer customers.