Ministry of agriculture regulates the use of drones for agriculture activities

Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture published Ordinance No. 298, of September 22, 2021, which establishes rules for the operation of drones for pesticides’ application in agricultural cultivation, whose effective date begins on October 1st.

The regulation requires all drone operators in agriculture to be registered before the Ministry of Agriculture and to attend a course of remote agricultural application. In order to obtain such registration, some obligations must be fulfilled, such as: (i) in the case of legal entities, having a technical in charge of coordinating agricultural activities; (ii) present proof that the operator’s aero-agricultural applicator has attended a certification course at one of the educational entities certified by the Ministry of Agriculture; and (iii) make use of drones that are in good standing with the National Civil Aviation Agency.

Once registration is obtained, drone operators must also: (i) submit monthly activity reports; (ii) inform any change in registration information; (iii) keep the application records available for inspection; and (iv) meet the requirements and deadlines established by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Ordinance brings a specific chapter on the operational safety of the use of drones in the aero-agricultural application of pesticides. One of the constraints prescribed is the prohibition of the application of certain pesticides in areas located less than 20 meters from villages, water sources, legal reserves, among other places.

Moreover, there is also a requirement to keep records of data documenting each application of pesticides by registered drone operators, which may be requested by MAPA at any time.

Undoubtedly, Ordinance No. 298/2021 represents an advance in the regulation of the use of drones in Brazil. Although its area of ​​application is restricted to the agricultural area, its simplified procedure can be used as an example and be replicated by other government agencies not yet forthcoming in this type of regulation.