Yamaha RMAX Agricultural Drone!


The Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopters are designed for a wide range of industrial and research applications. In today’s demonstration we will witness the agricultural drone apply herbicide to a rice field. This may be a huge step forward in precision agriculture!

The event was hosted at the Rice Experiment Station in Biggs, California. The RMAX helicopter drone applied the herbicide over a 10 acre plot of rice.

Other agricultural uses for the RMAX unmanned arial vehicle include spraying, seeding, remote sensing, precision agriculture, frost mitigation and variable rate dispersal.

Full Transcript:

Agricultural drones applying pest management applications in the rice fields! Is this the future of the rice industry? Is this the future of agriculture?  Let’s find out.

You know, it’s not rare that technology pushes an industry into a new era of efficiency and opportunity. What’s rare, I think, is witnessing that technology emerging into said industry. But that’s exactly what you’ll witness in this episode of Rice Farming TV. So come with me, over to the rice experiment station here in Biggs. And the boys from Yamaha are going to give us a demonstration of their Yamaha RMAX agricultural drone. Let’s check it out!

So, the total weight of the RMAX, with payload, is 205 pounds. It runs on gasoline and the average application speed is anywhere from 8-12 miles per hour.

Each payload cartridge holds 2 gallons and the RMAX carries 2 cartridges for a total payload of 4 gallons. It’s controlled manually via remote and today the Yamaha crew is using a second team member as a spotter at the opposite end of the field to help guide the pilot.

This is such an amazing spectacle because it’s only the second time in California that a Drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is applying herbicide to rice.

Mr. Jim Cook, Director of Research and Technology from Colusa County Farm Supply coordinated today’s project. Dr. Kent McKenzie, director of the California Rice Experiment Station, hosted the demonstration. And Louie Mendoza, the Butte County Ag Commissioner, provided regulatory and compliance support.

So a lot of care, forethought and hard work went into making this happen–all in the name of pushing the rice industry forward and, perhaps, adopting new technology.

Also worth mentioning–Joe Desmond, research manager at Butte County Rice Growers Association wrote the recommendation for the herbicide which was applied at 7.5 oz. with 3 gallons of water per acre over 10 acres. This required around 5 refills. The total flight time was around 1 hour to treat the 10 acre rice field.

Having a small camera drone myself, which I use making these Rice Farming TV episodes, it was magical watching the drone fly up the field, move sideways and reverse back down the field using maximum efficiency while applying the herbicide.

Now, if you ask me, due to the small payload its use would be very limited in possible pest management treatments. However due to its agility and smallish size it seems the ideal use of the drone is in difficult conditions where commercial applicators, like crop dusters, struggle with accurate applications. Areas like under power lines, next to other sensitive crops, difficult corners of rice fields and just other situations like that.

Now any concerns are normal when thinking about being an early adopter in new technology. But this does not take away from the excitement and grand potential in the near future that drones have in agriculture and rice specifically. And as it seems the future is just around the corner.  

And for those of you who are super excited about this like I am, it’s important to note that Yamaha is not selling the RMAX commercially. You can’t just go out and buy it. However they are selling the service of the RMAX. However, they’re not yet selling the service for rice. It’s most predominantly used in California in Napa Valley over vineyards.

But things in the technology world certainly change fast so I’ll definitely be keeping you updated folks.

And I just want to give a quick special thanks to Scott Gregory, Program Manager at AgOne Solutions who piloted the camera drone, capturing these gorgeous aerial shots.

Thanks for watching guys! Give me a thumbs up if you enjoyed this video. Please comment down below if you’re excited about drones making their way into agriculture. And, as always, subscribe to stay updated with new episodes of Rice Farming TV and the future of drones in agriculture. Take care.