In Canada, the use Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS; hereafter referred to as drones), is regulated by two Federal Departments: Transport Canada establishes regulations for safe operation and Health Canada for the registration and conditions of use of pest control products.
Drones are already used in Canadian agriculture for crop surveillance and livestock management, and they’re being used to apply granular fertilizers, for pollination, and for frost protection. The use of drones for general spraying was cleared by Transport Canada in July 2017. In 2018, Health Canada stipulated that the use of drones for pesticide application is not allowed under the Pest Control Products Act without sufficient data to characterize the hazards or risks associated with this use.
Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles must be specified on the pest control product label if this method of aerial application is to be used. Current references in the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s Directive on aerial application of pesticides refer to the use of fixed-wing or rotary aircraft and are intended to apply to conventional piloted vehicles only.
At the time this article was written, there were no liquid pest control products registered for application by drone in Canada. However, two restricted-use granular microbials intended for larval mosquito control were expanded to include drone application in the fall of 2022.
Drone working groups, both industry-oriented and regulatory-oriented, are working collaboratively to assemble the information needed to support drone registrations. Many research trials (approved by Health Canada) are planned or on-going as stakeholders determine the safest and most effective way for drones to fit into agricultural pest control.
For more information on pilot certification, and for links to the 2023 PMRA Information Note on drone-based spraying, please go to https://sprayers101.com/droning-canada/