New Legislation Reforms Drone Approval Process
A new bill signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom will modernize the California Department of Pesticide’s drone certification process. The existent regulations, which have been in place for more than 40 years, had become outdated and made it cumbersome to obtain a license for the use of drones in agricultural practices. The bill passed with unanimous bipartisan support and should streamline producers’ access to drones for aerial applications and biological treatments.
According to an article in AgAlert, growers of numerous commodities have commented on how the use of drones will improve crop yields, deliver more precise and targeted applications, lower labor/operating costs and contribute to worker safety. Typically, backpacks used for applications are heavy — up to 60 pounds — and can make it difficult and time consuming for laborers who are working in mountainous and hilly terrain.
The new law will lead to reforms of the applicator credentialing requirements and create specific training programs suitable for drones. In addition, commercial drone applicators will be designated under the unmanned aircraft pilot license.