By Admir, pharmacist by profession and hobby dronist by passion. He runs a review/news website on drones –https://dronepedia.xyz and 2 big Instagram community pages. You can find him on Twitter  @derAdmir.

The value of Drones to create incredible opportunities

With the advent of inexpensive drone technology a new gamut of options has been given to us. The field of agricultural is one of the areas that is set to benefit tremendously, and even in a few short years the capabilities that drones have given us are outstanding.

The use of drones in agriculture is growing quickly, and we are just beginning to develop uses for them. They offer inexpensive and highly varied capabilities and can be used for jobs that would be impossible to accomplish without them.

Inspection

When it comes to quality control and maintaining crops there is nothing better than drone technology. Drones have the ability to fly overhead at a ceiling of 120meters in the USA, and can make up detailed images using multi-spectrum cameras to spot problems that can lead to crop damage.

A unique advantage that drones can offer you is the ability to both do high-altitude imaging, that combined with a stitching program will provide you with low-cost analysis of your crops in near-real time, and also the ability to fly up close to any problem areas, to do macro inspections at a moments notice.

Drones are unimpeded by ground obstacles, and there is no need for you to hike through a dense corn field to do an inspection by hand. Just send the drone out, and have the work done in minutes.

Clearly this will save a farmer lot of time, money and hassle.

Seeding

Using drones to do your seeding makes a lot of sense. And what people are finding out is that not only do drones do a much faster job at seeding, but they also do a much better job.

Drones can be used for annual crops, and they do a great job. When seeding a field they have consistently achieved an uptake rate of 75%, but in addition to that drones offer a cost savings of around 85% over traditional methods.

Drones are currently being made that offer an all-in-one solution for replanting forests, and can cut time and labor for a job down to a fraction of any other available process.

A number of companies world wide have produced forestry specific drones that take care of optimization, planting and inspection. They begin when the previous forest is cut, and then make a detailed 3D map of the area, looking for the best way to replant.

Then the drones plant the area, achieving a rate of about 800 trees planted per hour. To put this in perspective, it can take a person a day or more to plant the same number of trees, depending on the conditions.

When drones are used for tree planting, a job that would take weeks with a team of people can be done in a few days.

Spraying

When it comes to crop spraying, drones offer a never before seen level of precision and efficiency. Up until this point crop spraying was done by essentially “dumb” means. The flow of the sprayer could be regulated, or the number of applications could be increased, but with drones all of that has changed.

Spraying drones are being outfitted with LiDar among other advanced sensor technology, and these allow to drone to measure soil moisture levels, and adjust the spray to the optimal level.

Because the optimal amount of liquid is being used, the farmer is not wasting expensive pesticide or fertilizer, in addition to that, the chemicals are far more likely to stay in the field, and not penetrate the ground water to the same degree.

A Growing Business

Agricultural drone technology has just began to enter the marketplace, and in reality is in its infancy. What is currently being used is one or two stages away from a prototype, and already the capabilities the drones show is an amazing leap beyond what we thought possible only a few years ago.

It will be very interesting to see where agricultural drone technology is in 10 years, and how people find new and better ways to implement it. If the first few years are any guide, we have some incredible surprises in store for us.


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