Information Note Regarding the Use of Drones when Applying Pesticides
The purpose of this information note is to communicate to pesticide users and other stakeholders the requirements for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS; hereafter referred to as drones) or unmanned aerial vehicles to be specified on the pest control product label if this method of aerial application is to be used.
Drones used for the purpose of applying pesticides represent a new method of aerial application for the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Current references in PMRA'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 (not drones).
Licenses and certification
License to operate a drone
Drones are considered aircraft by Transport Canada. Transport Canada licenses operators for aircraft operation only (including drones), not for other uses while operating the aircraft. Operators are responsible for meeting other applicable regulatory requirements established by other Government of Canada departments.
Certification to apply pesticides using a drone
Pesticide application by drone is a new technology and Provinces and Territories may require specific training and certification. Provinces and Territories are currently developing education and training materials to support application of a pesticide by drone. Read the pest control product label and, if needed, contact your Provincial or Territorial representative before proceeding with drone application.
Pest control products with drone application
Under the Pest Control Products Regulations, directions for the use of each pest control product, including any limitations on its use and procedures to reduce risks associated with that use, must be included on the label.
In September 2022, the first pest control product amendments to allow the use of drones for pesticide application were approved in Canada. These restricted class biological larvicide products contain active ingredients that have been determined to pose an acceptable risk to human health and the environment without any additional drone-specific data.
Products registered for application by drone will have "Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems" and/ or "RPAS" on the label. If these terms do not appear on pesticide labels, the use of drones to apply pesticides is not permitted under the Pest Control Products Act.
Registered products that allow applications via drones can be found in the Pesticide Product Information Database.
Obtaining registration for drone application of a pest control product
The PMRA has not received any data to support the use of drones for pesticide application with active ingredients that require a drone-specific risk assessment. The PMRA has thus not yet characterized the hazards/risks posed to human health and the environment, or the value of the product, associated with the use of drones to apply these kinds of pesticides. For these pesticides that require a drone-specific risk assessment, once this information has been received and determined to pose an acceptable risk and have acceptable value, drones can then be included on the product label.
Parties interested in using this new method of pesticide application need to work with registrants who must submit label amendment applications to the PMRA, along with sufficient data to characterize the hazards/risks associated with this use.
The PMRA offers a free pre-submission consultation service that provides regulatory guidance to registrants prior to the submission of an application. For additional information on submitting an application to add the use of drones for pesticide application a pre-submission consultation may be requested by contacting the PMRA at email@example.com.
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