CATCH THE BUZZ – Three Today!

  • Drones Applying Pesticides are Cheaper Than Conventional Spray Techniques
  • Winter Losses of British Honey Bees Were the Lowest Rate Since the BBA Started Counting
  • The Pesticide Chlorpyrifos Does Not Meet the Criteria Required by the European Union

By: Margy Eckelkamp – Farm Journal

AgTech startup Rantizo is working to lead the arrival of in-field application via drone. In Iowa, it’s the first company to receive approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct spraying applications via drone in agricultural fields.

“Our drone technology had been ready for a few months; we just needed the regulatory landscape to get sorted out,” says Rantizo CEO, Michael Ott. “Building the technology is the easy part,” he continued.

The company’s octocopter drones weigh 55 lb., with a 14’ spray boom, and can apply 100 acres in a day. With terrain compensation, the drones apply 3’ to 5’ above the crop. And an advantage of the drone-based application is its precise application that is within 1 to 3 meters of the spray target using standard GPS, or with RTK it’s within 3 cm.

“We are working with a crop chemical company in fungicide treatments making applications in specific rows,” Ott says.

The Rantizo platform provides a fully automated flight.

“Legally, you have to hold the controller, but with the right training, you don’t have to do anything else during the flight,” Ott says.

He says across all crops and geographies, there are issues of labor, and there aren’t enough people to accomplish what you need. The Rantizo team is first focusing on sales in the Midwest and then expanding from there. Ott says their target end-customers are ag retailers and co-ops.

According to the company their platform can be cost competitive with aerial rates at $10 to $12/acre to apply. And next year, they are working to advance a technology upgrade to make their applications in-line with ground rig rates.

Ott says a complete Rantizo system ranges in price from $20,000 to $25,000. The company sold its first drone application system in April of 2019. This spring the company has applied corn fungicide and spread cover crop seeds. It has also made applications in hemp crops.


Winter Losses of British Honey Bees Were 8.5% – the Lowest Rate Since the BBA Started Counting.

By: Alan Harman

Winter losses of British honey bees were 8.5% – the lowest rate since the British Beekeepers Association started the current survey program in 2007/08.

The survey covers the period from Oct. 1, 2018 to April 1, 2019 and was carried out online for the first time. Some 5,581 members completed the survey.

The association has members from the whole of the British Isles and the Channel Isles, including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Isles.

The overall winter survival rate was 91.5%. In England the rate was 91% survival, in Scotland 79% survival, Wales 94.3% survival and in the Channel Isles, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland survival rates were all above 98%

As with the previous year, weather was the main factor mentioned by those who lost colonies but there was no one overall event that caused problems.

The winter months were very variable and many places experienced wide variations in temperature and wind exposure which will, not only, have affected the way in which the colonies consumed their winter stores, but also in their ability to leave the hive and forage for any early sources of pollen and nectar which were available.

Association communications director Martin Smith says the brilliant overall survival rate of 91.5% this year exemplifies how good beekeeping is necessary for colonies of honey bees to survive and thrive.

“We are thrilled that the rate is so low and that it reflects all the effort associations put into training new beekeepers as well as the continuing education of their existing members,” he says.

“The associations have been asked to increase their training focus this year on how to avoid starvation, how to understand the nutritional state of the colony in terms of available stores and the ability of the bees to access them.”

The association estimates the number of colonies being managed by its members at 119,275.


The Pesticide Chlorpyrifos Does Not Meet the Criteria Required by Legislation for the Renewal of its Approval in The European Union.

By: Alan Harman

The pesticide chlorpyrifos does not meet the criteria required by legislation for the renewal of its approval in the European Union, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says.

The approval period for chlorpyrifos expires next January, and the manufacturers’ application for renewal is being evaluated under the EU’s peer review system for approval of pesticides.

Although the peer review is not yet fully completed, the European Commission asked EFSA to provide a statement on the available results of the human health assessment. EFSA has identified concerns about possible genotoxic effects as well as neurological effects during development, supported by epidemiological data indicating effects in children.

This means that no safe exposure level ­– or toxicological reference value – can be set for the substance.

The EFSA report says:

Chlorpyrifos is an active substance covered by the third batch of the renewal program for pesticides (‘AIR3’) in accordance with Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 844/2012.

Applications (June 2013) and supplementary dossiers (July 2015) for the renewal of approval of the active substance chlorpyrifos were submitted by a Task Force (comprising of Dow AgroSciences and Adama Agriculture B.V.) and by Sapec Agro SA.

An initial evaluation of the dossiers was provided by the rapporteur Member State (RMS) Spain in the Renewal Assessment Report (RAR) which was submitted to EFSA in July 2017.

Subsequently, EFSA initiated a peer review of the pesticides risk assessment on the RMS evaluation in line with the provisions of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 844/2012.

The commenting period was completed and included a public consultation on the RAR.

Following evaluation of the comments received as well as the additional information provided by the applicants in response to a request in accordance with Article 13(3) of Regulation (EU)

No 844/2012, a meeting of experts from EFSA and Member States, including relevant experts from the EFSA Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues (PPR Panel), took place to discuss certain elements related to mammalian toxicology.

In July 2019, prior to completion of the full peer review process, EFSA was mandated by the European Commission to provide a statement on the available outcomes of the human health assessment in the context of the peer review of chlorpyrifos.

The present statement contains a summary of the main findings of the assessment related to mammalian toxicology and human health following the Pesticides Peer Review Expert discussions in mammalian toxicology held between 1 and 5 April 2019. It also comprises EFSA’s additional considerations, including whether the active substance can be expected to meet the approval criteria which are applicable to human health as laid down in Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009.

Due to the fact that the genotoxic potential of chlorpyrifos remains unclear, toxicological reference values could not be established. Moreover, significant uncertainties were linked to the neurodevelopmental toxicity study, where effects were observed at the lowest dose tested in rats (decrease in cerebellum height corrected by brain weight). These concerns were supported by the available epidemiological evidence related to developmental neurological outcomes in children. In the absence of toxicological reference values, a risk assessment for consumers, operators, workers, bystanders and residents cannot be conducted. This issue represents a critical area of concern for chlorpyrifos.

In addition, the recorded toxicological effects meet the criteria for classification as toxic for reproduction category 1B (regarding developmental toxicity).

Based on the above results, it is considered that the approval criteria which are applicable to human health as laid down in Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 are not met.