CRETE: Drones to protect olive groves in new pest control initiative

CRETE: Drones to protect olive groves in new pest control initiative 1

A innovative programme for the protection of olive groves has been launched on the island of Crete that will see drones employed in pest-control.

The Region of Crete and the Hellenic Mediterranean University (ELMEPA), with branches in several cities of the island, recently signed an agreement for the program, called “Exarchos 2021”.

The program will test whether the pest can be controlled by using drones to spray the trees with a bait, and is budgeted at 50,000 euros.

“Undoubtedly, one of the key weaknesses of the system in applying bait spraying is the impossibility in several cases of having a farm vehicle approach olive groves lying at an angle or in difficult-to-access locations. The use of unmanned aircraft systems may provide an alternative solution.” said a spokesperson.

Exarchos 2021 will be tested in olive groves in Chania, Rethymno, Iraklio and Lassithi regions, spraying at least 600 olive trees per mission and per region.

Crete is a major olive oil producer, and the olives are key to the island’s economy and exports.