Controlling Japanese Beetles in a Vineyard with a Drone Pesticide Sprayer

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $8,988.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: IFM Brands
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Jerome Natzel
IFM Brands

Information Products

Custom Vineyard Robot (Article/Newsletter/Blog)


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Pest Management: chemical control

    Proposal summary:

    The vineyard canopy has been under attack by the invasive species, the Japanese beetle, for the last six seasons. The beetles attack the upper canopy starting from late June through early September. The canopy damage lowers grape quality, harvest yield, and causes uneven ripening of grape bunches.

    We have experimented with milky spore along with grass and weed herbicide control to eliminate the vegetation between rows and under vines. Together they have lowered the number of beetles but not enough to improve overall production of grape quality and yield. We still have 20-30% canopy loss plus the canopy regrows first taking nutrition from the grapes.

    A traditional tractor uses 25 gallons/acre vs. 2.5 gallons/acre using a drone, which in turn cuts down on environmental damage. Also heavy rains have not allowed a tractor sprayer to be run in the field. Drone spraying is not effected by rain.

    I am proposing precision agriculture by using a drone sprayer system to control the beetle from overhead using 70% less pesticides, decreasing chemical drift and evaporation with greater adherence of chemicals to leaves and beetles on vines.

    I believe production can be increased by 150-200% through better control of the beetle using aerial spraying.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objective is to lessen pesticide usage to control the Japanese beetle which in turn will do less environmental damage to soil, water, animal and human life.

    The speed of the drone, the spray amount, the drone altitude and the ratio of pesticide to water mixture will be controlled. Drone use will speed up spraying the 12 acres, which will lessen the health risk from chemicals on the sprayer operator along with less pesticide drift by using 90% less liquid.

    Another objective is to reduce the vine canopy beetle damage caused by the Japanese beetle in order to increase production.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.