Business

Iowa City drone start-up gets state, federal approval for aerial crop spraying

Rantizo technology director Mike Schmitz installs a new battery into a UAV as he prepares for a demonstration of a Rantizo unmanned aerial vehicle near a vineyard at Fireside Wineryin Marengo on Friday. The Iowa City-based company is using UAVs to deliver agrichemicals using an electrostatic sprayer to more efficiently deliver the chemicals onto crops. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Rantizo technology director Mike Schmitz installs a new battery into a UAV as he prepares for a demonstration of a Rantizo unmanned aerial vehicle near a vineyard at Fireside Wineryin Marengo on Friday. The Iowa City-based company is using UAVs to deliver agrichemicals using an electrostatic sprayer to more efficiently deliver the chemicals onto crops. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

An Iowa City-based agritech start-up has become the state’s first company approved to spray agrichemicals from aerial drones.

Rantizo, which develops and sells enhancements to existing aircraft, this week received licensing and certification for aerial pesticide application from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

The approval was the last hurdle the company needed for legal authorization, following two certifications it obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration in May.

“Our drone technology had been ready for a few months, we just needed the regulatory landscape to get sorted out,” said Rantizo CEO Michael Ott in a news release Thursday. “Building the technology is the easy part.”

Rantizo representatives said in April the drones can supplement traditional sprayer vehicles by using automation to fly back and forth over smaller, targeted areas, mapped out in advance by the farmer.

Ott said in the release the drones first will be used to applying fungicide in corn and spreading cover crop seeds to wet areas.

The company made its first drone sale in April and has started gaining interest from growers and ag retailers across the country, its release said.

• Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.