What we are doing to ensure the future is bright

DJI recently introduced the P4 multispectral, a high-precision unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or ‘drone’) which exploits the integration of multispectral cameras to facilitate agricultural and environmental monitoring applications. Therefore, imagery data collection for vegetation mapping is now simpler and more efficient than ever before.

In the DJI P4 multispectral, images are collected by an RGB camera and a multispectral camera array with five global shutter cameras covering blue, green, red, red-edge, and near-infrared bands at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,300 pixels (Figure 1). Real-time, centimetre-accurate positioning data on images captured by all six cameras within DJI’s built-in system is used to align the flight controller, RGB/multispectral cameras and RTK module. This fixes the positioning data to the centre of the CMOS and ensures that each image uses the most accurate metadata. All cameras benefit from the calibration process whereby radial and tangential lens distortions are measured and saved into each image’s metadata to ease post-processing of the images.

More importantly, an integrated spectral sunlight sensor on top of the UAV captures solar irradiance to maximize the accuracy and consistency of data collection at different times of the day. This enables the most accurate NDVI results to be achieved.

DroneAG spraying in say 2024 / 2025

Aerial spraying permitting arrangements

Application plan for aerial spraying

Anyone carrying out aerial spraying must make sure that:

  • spraying is done in line with an approved Application Plan
  • specific spray operations have been permitted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The Application Plan must be completed by aerial spraying operators. You can use the templates below.

Submit your plan to aerial.spraying.permits@hse.gov.uk with the appropriate covering letter and suitable map of the area to be treated.

To take account of different legislation in the UK, and to speed up the process of applications, you must complete separate plans for aerial spraying in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

It will help us (and you) if you send separate application plans for jobs:

  • in or within protected areas
  • not in or within protected areas
  • grouped by county

There are plans for operations to control bracken. Additional Plans may be developed for other situations (for example, control of potato blight).

The Application Plan can (but does not have to) include details of specific spray operations.

HSE aims to process requests to approve fully completed Application Plans and permits within 10 working days. However, where HSE has legislative obligations to take account of the views of conservation agencies (typically where spraying takes place in or close to a conservation area), it will be necessary to 'stop the clock' while this consultation takes place. Applicants should take account of this when considering the timing of submission of Application Plans. You must include a provisional time and date of spraying that gives us enough time to process your application and issue the permit.

HSE will consider approving Application Plans and/or permitting spray operations which meet the requirements set out in the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012. The law also allows us to withdraw or amend permits in certain circumstances.

You must of course, comply with all other laws regarding the use of plant protection products (PPPs). Retain your paperwork for at least 3 years, this will enable HSE to undertake relevant compliance work.

Application of pesticides by drone

HSE currently considers the application of pesticides by drone to be aerial spraying. So it is subject to the permitting arrangements described above.

Current regulations do not prevent drone spraying and do not impose specific requirements beyond those which generally apply. HSE needs to be satisfied that spraying can be done without causing harm to human health or having unacceptable effects on the environment.

We are leading work with drone operators and other relevant industries to develop a shared understanding of the risks to ensure drone spraying can be done safely.

HSE will accept requests to permit the application of pesticides by drone. As this is a new and developing technology, potential applicants are advised to contact us to discuss the best approach to address the regulatory requirements.