Farmers in China will soon be able to hail drones for crop dusting from the comfort of their homes using an app.
The sharing service platform for delivering agricultural drones to farmland is expected to be rolled out in September.
Developed by a subsidiary of Eagle Brother Co, based in Wuhan, Hubei province, the app allows farmers to customize services by providing information on crop type, farm size and pesticide needed.
Drones will then be sent to discharge the pesticides as requested, according to Li Caisheng, founder of the company.
"Farmers have doubts at first, but our products have gained popularity quickly because the free trials we offered have demonstrated great productivity," Li said.
Using drones for crop dusting is believed to be more efficient and safer than traditional methods. Drones reduce water consumption by 90 percent and pesticide volume by 40 percent, according to Li.
"A worker using a sprayer can dust about 1.7 hectares of crops a day, while a drone can spray as much as 24 hectares in the same period," said Wang Jingsen, manager of a farming cooperative in Sichuan province, who lent the drones to local farmers.
The launch of the new app is aimed at lowering the cost of communication between drone providers and farmers, and expediting transactions.
"We estimate that 1,000 drones will fulfill the needs of farmers in Hubei province. The whole domestic market in China will require about 25,000 drones," Li said.
China is stepping up efforts to increase the efficiency of agricultural chemicals to 40 percent by 2020, up from 35 percent in 2013, according to an action plan released by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2015.
For years, farmers in China have relied on manual labor, tractors or electronic sprayers to apply pesticides, with only 2 percent employing aircraft - lagging behind the global average of 17 percent - according to a report by Zhiyan Consultancy in Beijing in 2016.
The number of drones employed in farming has soared in recent years, reaching more than 14,000 last year, up from 8,000 in 2016, the ministry said in July.
More than 30 million people work in China's agricultural sector, and about 30 percent of them have been exposed to toxic chemicals due to lack of protection, Xinhua News Agency reported.