Drones are taking the agricultural world by storm, and in a short space of time it will be a common sight to drive past a farm and see the fields being surveyed by drones. They will become commonplace farm machinery in the same way as one would expect to see a combine harvester or tractor, seeing a drone will signal you are probably very near a farm.
So what is driving this surge in technology use in the farming world and why are they already so popular among smart agriculturalists and precision farmers alike?
First and foremost, it is the most flexible and affordable way for a farmer to accurately survey his fields from above. Using data from planes or satellites is costly, restrictive in the amount of data it can collect on any given pass of the field and also for many everyday farmers it is simply a luxury they don’t have access to. Drones can be purchased with little expense and the technology can be then added in stages. Much like loading up a new smart phone with apps or a computer with programs. They are straightforward to get hold of, inexpensive to repair if damaged and also enjoyable to use. So that covers off why drones are much more readily available to farmers all over the world. But how practical are they?
The truth is a drone can be as effective or as ineffective as you choose it to be. Some farmers just use the camera attachment to get an aerial view of their fields or to locate lost livestock. Whilst perfectly suitable for that job and well utilised as an eye in the sky, drones can bring so much more valuable information to your fingertips.
Here are 3 extremely useful things a drone can do but not cost you the earth.
By simply attaching the thermal camera to your drone you can easily assess a wealth of things. Perhaps you want to see if your irrigation network is complete or blocked? Having a thermal camera allows you to monitor the entire network in a matter of minutes. On a precision level, the health of individual crops (and amazingly even individual leaves) is available in an instant through implementing the use of the thermal technology. This in-depth analysis allows you to focus your valuable time and effort in the areas that will really improve your farms profitability come harvest time.
Drones have the ability to sow your fields. The seeding process has a great uptake at around 75% and is significantly cheaper than using the traditional sowing methods. Not only is it money smart it is also work smart. Instead of spending days in the fields with the seeders having a drone enables you to complete the job far quicker. Now it is important to note on this point that compared to traditional methods you will lose a little uptake which will in turn reduce your yield. But the process is over 90% cheaper to complete using drones so if this saving outweighs the small drop in yield you are on to a winner.
In the same way that a drone can sow your fields it can also deliver fertiliser and pesticides. This method is not only a lot cheaper than traditional methods but having the drone’s set of eyes really gives you the opportunity to focus on the areas that need most attention. This eliminates the wastage of a blanket spray and again saves you a lot of time and money.
Now we know they are very practical tools, but is that all they bring to the table?
Absolutely not! Drones can get very technical and the level of data you are able to collate and then use can get to a pinpoint level of accuracy. Drones with the right equipment attached probably could find a needle in a haystack. They are also kind to the environment. By reducing the use of outdated and polluting machinery, drones provide a sustainable solution to everyday farm management problems. They provide real time information that even revolutionises the practices of privileged farmers with access to other technology like planes or satellites; they no longer have to wait for their data. This up to date feed of information means that farmers can make informed decisions on the spot and concentrate on making the farm more profitable. Around the world governments are rushing to pass legislature to ensure drones can be used on farms across their countries, as currently due to aviation rules using drones can be troublesome in some areas. Farmers are always advised to check with their local authority prior to use and also be up to date on the rules and regulations in your area. With so much promise, the only real question that remains; will you join us and herald in the drone revolution?