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Company uses drones to help with crop pest management

Posted at 12:38 PM, Feb 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-01 15:38:37-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A Salinas-based company, Parabug, created a system for drones to distribute helpful insects, also called biocontrols or beneficials, onto crops to either eat or kill pests.

Using biocontrols is a common practice in the agriculture industry, especially in organics, but it's traditionally done by hand.

Parabug founder Chandler Bennett said his use of a drone to apply the insects saves both time and money. He said his system can apply the beneficials in a quarter of the time than by hand.

"One of the things that’s still hindering the progress of using biocontrols is the cost and the labor and the timeliness," said Bennett.

His sytem with drones changes that.

"Ultimately what we’re trying to do is give farmers another tool in their pest management so that they can continue to sustainably grow food," said Bennett.

Bennett said about 30% to 40% of Parabug's land is in Kern County.

Max Jehle, a Kern County farmer and pest management specialist of 40 years, said Parabug is a step in the right direction.

"Hopefully that’s where the industry is going. Young people that will take these techniques like a drone and expand on them. It could go sky high because there’s a lot of good brains out there," said Jehle.