June 28, 2022
Guardian Agriculture, which develops a fully autonomous crop protection aircraft system, has announced a multi-million-dollar partnership with Wilbur-Ellis, a distributor and manufacturer of agricultural products, specialty chemicals, and animal feed. The partnership will allow Wilbur-Ellis customers the opportunity to access Guardian’s aerial technology for precision aerial application in agriculture.
“This is the first new aerial technology to make a material impact on American farms,” said Mike Wilbur, CEO of Cavallo Ventures at Wilbur-Ellis. “We believe it can be profitably and rapidly deployed and are looking forward to working with Guardian Ag to roll out their technology to our customers and partners.”
Guardian Ag’s fully electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) system delivers precision application of crop protection in a fraction of the time and cost of other vehicles, the company said. It can carry multi-hundred-pound payloads and address several application spray volumes and application needs for growers. The aircraft features four six-foot propellers and an overall 15-foot aircraft width, and can cover 40 acres per our of full-field crop protection to growers.
The system combines the autonomous aircraft, a ground supercharger and software that generates domestically stored data, the system also provides on-target application to fields when and where necessary. It uses industry standard nozzles, pressure, droplet sizes, and application volumes.
“Guardian’s technology delivers tremendous benefits to both growers and the environment,” said Adam Bercu, CEO and co-founder of Guardian Ag. “Growers can expect a cost-effective application that will solve critical problems with coverage quality, sustainability, repeatability, and eliminate off-target spray and overspray.”
Data collected during flight includes wind speed, temperatures, obstructions, and more, the company said. Coupled with pre-planned flight plans, designated spray boundaries and spray rates, the system aims to significantly reduce application errors by providing superior spray quality with reduced environmental and economic risk impacts. “Our autonomous systems deliver high-precision crop protection, enabling significant improvements in environmental safety for workers, soil health, and beneficial insect conservation,” said Jeff Sparks, co-founder and chief operating officer at Guardian Ag.
Guardian said the regulatory approval process is under way, with commercialization and availability to growers expected in 2023. The Salinas Valley of California is being eyed as the potential first deployment location of the eVTOL aircraft in 2023.
For more details on the Guardian Ag system, visit its website here.