Far more than just a cool toy, drones have become a serious tool that is useful across a wide variety of different fields. Though agriculture relies on timeless principles to ensure a plentiful harvest, recent advancements in drone technology have allowed these devices to play an important role in the way a savvy farmer operates and cares for his farm. To give a glimpse at just how far drones have come, here are a few ways that their advancements have impacted agriculture.
The increasing size of professional drones allows for an increased payload. For agriculture, this means the ability to fertilize and protect crops without the need for a crop duster. This allows work to continue all throughout the day and night to ensure the proper chemicals are distributed on time. Plus, with the ability to remotely deploy a drone, farmers can still take advantage of skilled professional crop sprayers, though at a fraction of the cost of a pilot flying a plane over their fields.
For many farmers, one of the biggest challenges is staying up-to-date about the status of their crops. While a general estimation of crop health can be made by taking random samples, it’s typically been impossible to gain a full understanding of the overall health of a crop due to the sheer size of the field. With drones with thermal cameras, however, understanding overall crop health is now a possibility. By detecting areas of lower or higher heat concentrations, drones can detect where there is too much or not enough water, allowing farmers to more effectively utilize irrigation to keep their crops well-watered.
As battery technology continues to advance, so, too, do the applications for drones in agriculture. Drones are now able to be deployed on farms of all sizes without the worry that a drone will be lost in a field due to a depleted battery. This ensures that any task, whether crop dusting, thermal imaging, or some other task, can be done quickly and easily by farmers across all farm sizes, experience levels, and budgets.
Another attribute of drones is that their cameras continue to advance. Cameras and drones are as inseparable as peanut butter and jelly, so manufacturers are always working to make the lightweight cameras in drones more accurate and robust. When it comes to agriculture, better cameras are helpful in many applications, one of which is keeping an eye on a herd of livestock. Rather than physically locating and then inspecting a herd, farmers can use the geolocation abilities of a drone to quickly find and then observe the activities of a herd. This ensures that nothing major happens within a herd without the farmer’s knowledge.
As fast as drones are advancing, the future is bright and exciting. While a drone will never replace the intuition of an experienced farmer, drones will continue to make a farmer’s job easier and more efficient. As prices continue to come down on professional-grade drones, more and more farmers will be able to adopt this technology, offering the many benefits of drones to a wider range of farmers.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan
“Expert Insight” is the independent views and opinions of the submitting named author of this article.