Drones to be used to fight olive tree pest in pilot program on Crete



Regional authorities on Crete and a local university have agreed on a pilot program to fight the olive fruit fly by delivering baits in olive groves through drones.


The Region of Crete and the Hellenic Mediterranean University (ELMEPA), with branches in several cities of the island, recently signed an agreement for the program, called "Exarchos 2021".


The program will test whether the pest can be controlled by using drones to spray the trees with a bait, and is budgeted at 50,000 euros.


As the region said in a statement, "Undoubtedly, one of the key weaknesses of the system in applying bait spraying is the impossibility in several cases of having a farm vehicle approach olive groves lying at an angle or in difficult-to-access locations. The use of unmanned aircraft systems may provide an alternative solution."


Exarchos 2021 will be tested at such olive groves in Chania, Rethymno, Iraklio and Lassithi regions, spraying at least 600 olive trees per mission and per region.


Crete is a major olive oil producer, and the olives are key to the island's economy and exports.