If you are tech-savvy and interested in new innovations the tech world has to offer. You must have come across the idea of using drones in agriculture.
With preparation and strategy focused on real-time data collection and processing. Drone technology will give the agriculture industry a high-tech makeover.
Farms and agriculture corporations will increase crop yields, save time. They will make land management decisions. by introducing drone technology to maximize long-term performance.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have not yet entered the mainstream agricultural arena. They can play an important role in precision farming. Helping farmers to lead the way in sustainable farming practices. Also, at the same time protecting and increasing profitability.
Drones at first had military purposes, and now they are being used in various industries.
Agricultural drones assist in achieving and developing precision farming. Several uses of farming drones include land and field scouting. Also in weed control, spot treatment plants, crop health monitoring. Not to mention handling livestock, and health issues monitoring.
More drones come with propulsion systems, infrared cameras, GPS navigation systems. Besides, they also have programmable controllers and automated flight planning.
Agronomists, agricultural engineers, and farmers turn to UAVs for more successful crop insights. They can plan and manage their operations by tracking crops from the sky.
Over the last few years, agricultural drone technology has improved. The advantages of drones in agriculture are becoming more evident to farmers. The drone usage ranges from mapping and surveying to crop-dusting and spraying.
Agricultural drones are no different on the surface from other types of drones. The use of drones adapts to meet the needs of the farmer. Yet, there are several drones made for agricultural use.
How drones can impact plant health
You can assess plant health using light absorption with near-infrared (NIR) drone sensors. This also allows you a bird’s-eye view of optimal plant health.
You will gather information such as crop and plant health. Land distribution based on crop type. Current crop life cycle, and accurate GPS maps of the current crop area.
This also includes aerial mapping, tracking of plant health, identification of weeds. Also, where legislation allows spraying of crops.
The result is clear, drones will help optimize the use of land and resources. Morover allowing farmers to decide crop planting locations better.
Drones reveal plant health using special imaging equipment. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in the equipment uses comprehensive color details.
Images can range from clear pictures of visible light to multi-spectral photos. This helps to analyze various aspects of plant health, weeds, and properties.
How drones are being used in agriculture
Agricultural drone use is rising as more farmers understand its capacity. Its evolving potential to take on more prominent roles in the future.
Figures say that private users still dominate worldwide drone sales of 2.8 million. But, sales will rise from 174,000 drones in 2017 to 805,000 units in 2021.
PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that the agriculture industry is currently the second-largest drone user. The first one being the construction industry.
It said that drones are now providing farmers with $32 billion worth of services. The technology’s appeal is increasing as the cost of drone equipment is going down. As a result, it will lower outlays at the initial stage. Promising higher returns against investments.
Jonathan Gill is a mechatronics researcher at Harper Adams University in England. He said it is possible to recover a high-tech drone cost in three years.
Mr. Gill considered a £20,000 camera/drone in a previous estimate. This took three years to pay back on a 200-ha arable land.
The payback came from increased yield provided by more effective nitrogen. Also because of the disease monitoring made possible by the drone’s multispectral camera.
Why should we use drones in agriculture?
Farming drones come with sensors and have good imaging capabilities. For improved tracking, some also have thermal infrared sensors. Drone systems for farming consist of hardware, sensors, and software.
Even in cloudy climates, they take high-resolution photos. The bird’s eye view that these drones provide allows the farmers to get the complete picture of the field.
This helps them detect pest and fungal infections. Helps to solve irrigation issues, soil variations, and many other variables.
What will drones do for farming, then? The response to this question is that productivity is rising. But drones are more than that.
As drones become an essential part of precision farming. They help farmers cope with a wide range of challenges and reap a broad set of advantages.
Most of these advantages arise from removing any guesswork and reducing confusion. Success depends on many variables that farmers have little to no control over. For instance, the weather and soil, temperature, precipitation, etc.
Above all, the secret to productivity lies in their ability to adapt. The availability of reliable, almost real-time information from drones.
Here’s where it can be a game-changer to use drone technology. Farmers can increase crop yields, save time, cut expenses. They can operate with unprecedented precision and accuracy.
What role will drones have in sustainable agriculture?
A seminal report from IPCC stated that sustainable land management is crucial. If we want to mitigate climate change.
The quality of land degrades as a consequence of agricultural activity by humans. Changing how farms operate could provide cost-effective, immediate, and long-term benefits.
With this in mind, farmers worldwide need to start to mitigate climate change effects. They can protect themselves from economic losses. This indicates implementing the use of drones in agriculture is a viable option.
Besides, climate change also generates new layers of uncertainty in supply chain security.
Changing environmental factors compounds these problems only further. Recent estimates state that the loss due to climate change across Europe could be as high as 16 percent by 2050.
New technologies, such as software for flight planning, lets users set flight paths. This enables better land coverage. With their unique light sensor cameras, agricultural drones can take images.
For instance, their software allows users to collate and weave geo-tagged images together. Once these drones land, they enable optimized monitoring. The drones will provide the farmer with periodic updates on the crops. This will allow them to decide the future course of action.
Future use of drones in agriculture
Using drones in agriculture will unlock automation. Farmers do not have the time to be drone pilots. Thus autonomous drones are the only way to cover the vast acres of land in the US in a scalable way.
We are looking to the future, where autonomous drone systems are as prevalent as tractors. We can see increased cooperation between farm-based technologies. This will further unleash precision farming benefits.
This will include communicating between autonomous drones and ground equipment. The ground sensors synthesize the aerial images and weather data. It generates a shared AI package. This will replicate and enhance the farm’s daily tasks.
Start-ups have developed drone-planting systems that achieve a 75 percent uptake rate. Moreover, reducing planting costs by 85 percent.
The world is fast-paced. In a blink of an eye, adjustments, improvements, and transitions occur.
Furthermore, farmers need to start using new-generation technology. So that they can tackle emerging challenges. Such as rising population and the global shift in weather conditions. In recent years, precision technology has powered the farming revolution.
Agronomists and farmers turn to UAVs to gain more successful crop insights. Planning and managing their operations. Tracking crops from the sky using agricultural drones seems set to drive the next one.
In response to tightening budgets, farmers and agronomists need to improve resource management.
Also, in the United States, small family farms, averaging 231 acres, make up 88 percent. This means that 1.85 million farms can enjoy agricultural drones immediately.
As estimated by Global Business Insights. Farmers all over the world will buy drones worth $1 billion by 2024. That is approximately 200,000 units. GMI attributes the growth in 2024 to growing awareness of the pros and cons among farmers.