Farmers are always pressured to deliver higher food yields due to the ever-increasing human population. This is where technology comes in. Drone farming has now become a game changer in the way farmers evaluate, spray, and plan for future crop growth. Drones can save farmers time, money, and fertilizer. Today, drone farming technology is more than just a bird’s-eye view. Advanced software can use images captured from drones to create 3D models to identify variables such as crop stress. Healthy plants can be distinguished and soil analysis is used for pinpointing the best areas to plant the next batch of seeds. Drones have made farming more efficient, which in turn translates to lower maintenance costs and higher food yields in the long run.
Drone Farming is Actually Good for the Environment
Precisely controlling where and when to spray fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides with drones can minimize excessive fertilizer use. Too much fertilizer on plants can result in what is called fertilizer burn, or a condition in which plants become unhealthy and nearly unusable. The increase accuracy of fertilizer spray with drones decreases the chances of fertilizer runoff into local streams and rivers; this means that there are less dead zones in lakes because the excessive fertilizers don’t result in the depletion of oxygen in lakes. Basically, less contamination from fertilizers is good for the environment as a whole.
Drone Farming Methods
The most common use of agricultural drones is mapping or surveying. The aerial perspective that drones offer reduces the need to go row by row to check crop health. Data from drone flights can be configured to show the number of crops, and some are even sophisticated enough to show a plant’s height. Other than surveys, drone spraying is starting to gain momentum, especially since companies like DJI and Yamaha release drones tailor made for agriculture. The latest agriculture drones utilize infrared and thermal cameras to capture field data such as chlorophyll levels.
What are Some Agriculture Drones?
DJI made their first agriculture drone called the Agras MG-1, and it is a spraying drone. Even consumer drones like a DJI Phantom 4 Pro can now use 3DR’s Site Scan app for detailed farm mapping and surveying. When it comes to large scale operations, farmers usually turn to fixed-wing aircrafts such as the PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5, senseFly eBee SQ, and the Honeycomb AgDrone. Fixed-Wing UAVs may be less accurate than a octocopter, but range and flight times are best found with these types of drones.
The Future of Drone Farming
Drones are becoming more intelligent, so swarm drones are something to keep an eye on. If one drone can give invaluable data, then swarm drones can make drone farming even easier and more precise. As technology advances, drones will continue to change the way farmers farm.