It seems like technology these days is being inducted into everything we do. With the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) issuing their first commercial drones permit back in 2006 and recreational drones becoming popular in 2015, it did not take long for people to realize using drone technology in various industries.
Hence it was only natural selection when agricultural drones started to become available. Some major market shareholders include the likes of AeroVironment Inc., DJI, Parrot, and PrecisionHawk Inc., to name a few.
According to a recent study by Globe Newswire, the agriculture drone market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 31.1% from 2019 to 2025 and is expected to reach $5.19 billion. Furthermore, agricultural drones can spray 40%-60% faster than manual spraying equipment while saving 30%-50% in chemical cost.
Moreover, drones are also able to conserve up to 90% of the water used for agricultural purposes. In light of this information, let’s take a quick look at how drones are helping modern-day farmers.
1. Crop Spraying & Spot Treatments
Perhaps one of the most apparent uses of drones that come to mind is that they can be used to spray crops and perform spot treatments. Spot spraying or spot spraying systems are utilized to bring a variety of improvements that exceed traditional agricultural methods. In fact, spot spraying is especially useful for combating herbicide-resistant weeds and help farmers focus on areas that need the most attention.
On the other hand, after taking approval from the FAA, farmers can equip drones with large reservoirs that can be filled with all sorts of chemicals, including fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. They can then use these drones to spray crops, depending upon the need for the produce.
2. Field and Soil Analysis
It is important for growing and harvesting any agricultural produce that specific soil and environmental recommendations are met. This means that the condition of the soil and the field should be favorable for a particular crop to be grown in massive quantities. Farmers can use drones to help them conduct such analysis by obtaining 3D maps of the current and existing soil conditions via imaging technologies.
This will then allow them to make informed decisions based on their assimilated information that provides the details about the surrounding soil quality, dread zones, and nutritional value infused into the soil. This can be further aided with the help of ongoing monitoring at periodic intervals and keep a check that favorable conditions for crops and their growth are being met.
3. Irrigation Monitoring
Life is the source of all life in the universe. No wonder astronauts and those involved in space exploration are still eager to find some water reminiscence on other planets. Likewise, adequate irrigation and irrigation systems are at the heart of all agricultural activities when it comes to agriculture.
However, irrigation can prove quite troublesome at times. This is why the induction of drone to monitor and manage proper irrigation of plants and agricultural products can make life much easier for farmers. Drones can be equipped with thermal cameras to spot irrigation issues and find out which areas are being affected by little or excessive moisture, as both can be bad for most crops.
4. Livestock Management
Those who invest in livestock know just how important it is to maintain their health and keep them monitored. Not only is livestock is a highly intensive investment, but their upkeep is also quite exhausting.
Drones can help farmers monitor their livestock and keep active track of them at a much greater frequency than less time taking and reduce the cost of staff or manpower required. You can also use drones to keep a check on your herd to find out more about any missing or injured livestock. In fact, you can also use thermal imaging to pinpoint any threats such as livestock predators.
5. Monitoring Crop Health
One major way through which drones are being used and have been tried and tested is to monitor plant health. Drones these days are being equipped with special imaging equipment called NDVI (Normalized Vegetation Index) that is used to provide detailer color information to indicate plant health. Hence you can easily detect a dying crop, a crop that is in stress, and healthy crops.
While most drones commonly use regular cameras, technology is being under development to monitor crop growth, with image accuracies reaching up to a millimeter. This allows any disease and pest problems to be instantaneously detected and treated right away. Young ones who opt for personal statement help and are into horticulture might find drones useful for monitoring their personal gardens.
6. Planting Seeds
Drones these days are also being used to implant seed into the soil. Though this is a relatively newer technology not as widely used as other mentions in this list, manufacturers around the world are experimenting and finding ways to build custom systems that can have the ability to shoot seeding pods into prepared soil.
One fine example is DroneSeed which is providing use cases for rapid reforestation in areas that are exposed to wildfires and other hazards. The company claims that it offers six times faster solutions compared to manual methods such as hand planting seedlings.
7. Scouting Land and Crops
Scouting and mapping agricultural land is a major task for many farmers. Many farmers would often perform a survey of the land before deciding to grow certain crops, and it naturally takes quite an effort. However, drones can offer a big advantage of using technology to scale the land for crops and use plane imagery to spot potential issues.
Drones these days are now fitted with near-infrared sensors that determine light absorption while also giving you a birds-eye view of the overall farm health.
There is no doubt that there is still a large capacity for growth in the use of agricultural drones, and with technology improving and becoming more enhanced with time, future use cases will soon become evident. Drones can record data from the crops and, with the help of better imaging of crops, can help farmers analyze their products and make informed decisions.
While modern drones might be too expensive to purchase and maintain for small farms in developing nations, however programs are underway and being developed to minimize these costs and help locals get all the assistance they need. That’s it for now. Cheers and all the best for your future endeavors!