AgriGold Drone Trials Vet Fungicides And How They Best Pair With Hybrids | AgriGold

AgriGold Drone Trials Vet Fungicides And How They Best Pair With Hybrids

AgriGold Drone Trials Vet Fungicides And How They Best Pair With Hybrids

Whether or not farmers are ready to make the leap to drone technology, AgriGold customers are reaping its benefits. That’s because we’re using this cutting-edge technology to vet fungicides and how they perform with our hybrids, and we’re sharing that information with customers. 

“We’re trying to understand our hybrids as well as we can by using drones to spray fungicides and micronutrients to see which respond the best,” says AgriGold Agronomist Ron Roling. “We’re also testing fungicides to help farmers decide which ones might work best for a given environment.”

Roling continues, “We share that information with the farmers and dealers we work with because we’re passionate about helping them decide which hybrid/fungicide combos are best for maximizing productivity in their area.”

Contact your local AgriGold agronomist for more information on fungicide trials and hybrid paring.

Drones enable replicated testing of fungicides and hybrids

As part of these trials, AgriGold works with individual farmers using different hybrids and various fungicide and micronutrient mixes. Roling says, “Drone applications provide a quick, easy way to test multiple fungicides and micronutrients across fields in a replicated environment.

“We’re running unbiased trials on fungicides that are on the marketplace today,” he adds. “Since we’re not in the fungicide business, we’re focused on collecting data that can support our farmer customers’ decisions on which products are of value and also which hybrids best respond to various fungicides.”

For instance, drone trials conducted in 2020 and 2021 using five different fungicides showed average yield increases relative to a check ranging from 6.5 bushels an acre to 12.3 bushels an acre. But for the fungicide that averaged a yield bump of 12.3 bushels, the yield increase varied from 4.5 bushels to 28.8 bushels, depending on which hybrid it was paired. The average alone doesn’t tell the full story.

2020 R1 Fungicide Results

Average Yield Difference vs. Check

Product Name

Bowling Green, MO

Jesup, IA

Independence, IA

Grand Mound, IA

Average All Locations



















Check Yield













2021 R1 Fungicide Results

Average Yield Difference vs. Check

Product Name

Polo, IL

Durant, IA

Swea City, IA

Average All Locations
















Miravis Top










Check Yield











Reasons for drone application

Drones will become a staple at farms with more than 500 acres over the next five years, in part due to their versatility, predicts Tom Hermann, an AgriGold seed dealer, farmer and partner at Altitude Ag LLC. “Drones have many applications, from spraying fungicides to spreading cover crops to clearing brush,” he says. He believes “the technology is going to be built upon and increase efficiency every step of the way.”

Drones are a great option in areas where fungicide application with airplanes, helicopters or self-propelled hi-boy rigs would be challenging, such as near residential areas, according to Roling. He adds drones are also an option for spot-treating a section of a field.

“Drones can provide more flexibility in terms of when you can apply fungicide,” Roling says. “They enable timely applications when fields are saturated and we can’t get a sprayer in or across the field.”

Hermann says drones make a lot of sense for farmers in southeast Missouri because of the smaller field sizes than neighboring Iowa, for example. He says ground rigs are not a viable option for corn and those fields are too small for planes. Farmers’ only option had been to pool acres with others until they had a big enough footprint to hire a helicopter.

Overcoming the challenges of drone application

As with any new technology, drone fungicide application is not without its challenges and limitations, many of which have to do with time and scale.

“It takes longer to spray a field with a drone,” Roling says, referencing time spent refilling drones and swapping batteries. “Ground rigs can spray 10, 12 or 15 gallons an acre, while most drones are limited to 2 gallons of solution an acre,” he adds. In addition to covering a wider swathe, he observes airplanes also move a “heck of a lot faster.”

Some of the largest drones available today can cover about four acres per tank, but Hermann says refilling the drones and switching batteries generally takes less than a minute. You just have to get in the habit of doing so, he says.

Furthermore, Hermann says, “Drones can cover around 35 acres an hour, and the quality of that coverage is better, in my opinion. With drones we’re spraying 20 to 30 feet wide at 16 miles per hour versus a helicopter spraying 60 feet wide at 80 miles per hour.”

There’s also a cost advantage with drones, says Hermann. “Helicopters can cover far more acres than a drone in a day. But they are also more expensive,” he says.

The cost to operate the drone itself is less than $2 an acre, and that includes paying someone to run it. That compares to aerial application costs that can vary from $8 to $16 an acre, depending on the region, he continues. Consequently, Hermann expects more and more ag retailers to invest in drones.

Looking to the future

Roling expects drones to “become a bigger factor in a lot of our spraying as technology improves.” One of the biggest hurdles is time, he says. “If we figure out a way to get it done quicker with drones – whether that’s via bigger drones or faster drones or longer battery lives – usage will increase.”

Hermann expects farmers will rely on larger drones and swarms of drones in the future. He anticipates larger drones that can hold 60 gallons of liquid to hit the market in a decade.

Another hurdle to wider adoption is cost. “Technology continues to get cheaper. As that happens, farmers will be more interested,” Roling predicts. He also expects drone applications to get quicker with time, whether that’s via larger drones, faster drones or drones with longer battery lives.

“The biggest challenge is trusting the machine. The drone is going to do everything you tell it to do,” Hermann says. Therefore, he says mapping fields correctly is critical; that includes understanding field boundaries and what you need to set for your offsets.

“Technology scares a lot of people, and farmers hesitate to ask questions because they don’t want to sound ignorant,” Hermann says. “When we do demos and show people how easy they are to operate, farmers quickly shift their mindset from ‘I can’t do this’ to asking, ‘Why haven’t I done this sooner?’”