Benefits of Drone Use in Agriculture
Drones are a relatively new addition to the world of agriculture. People have been using remotely controlled machines for decades, but it is only in the past 6 or 7 years that the unmanned aerial vehicles that we call drones have been integrated. In that time, it has been discovered that drone usage has many benefits when it comes to the agricultural industry. In this article, we shall cover the top 5 benefits drones give.
Top 5 Benefits of Drones in Farming
- Increased Yields
- Time Saving
- Quick Return of Investment
- Crop Safety
- Environmentally Friendly
Drones can be used to harvest a wide number of agricultural crops, providing a cost-effective and non-labor intensive solution for many producers, thereby increasing yield. They are useful across the board, with small to large scale operations rapidly integrating their use.
Drones can also be fitted with a whole host of sensors and data gathering equipment, allowing their operators to gather data which in turn can be used to find methods to increase production and efficiency.
A major benefit to using drones in farming is that they allow their operators to scout farm fields speedily and efficiently. Instead of more traditional practices which involve a human manually checking fields by eye, using a tractor or more commonly by foot, this technology allows farmers to gain almost immediate knowledge about the status of their fields.
This is invaluable for medium to large scale operations; with properties spanning many acres, having drones that can quickly zip back and forth across the land is very useful indeed.
The information that they provide can be gathered wherever and whenever it is needed, therefore significantly reducing the time taken to address issues and maintain crops.
Quick Return on Investment
With the price for a visual inspection or an aerial survey being around $5 per acre, the return on your initial investment in a drone can be met quickly. Drones require little maintenance if looked after correctly and flown safely, and the ROI can be achieved in one or two crop seasons. Reducing operating costs is a big issue for most producers, and it is pleasing to many that such significant reductions can be achieved simply by the use of drones.
Crop Health Imaging
Drones can be extremely effective at helping farmers to collect data about crop health. With the crop health imaging software that has been adapted to agricultural drones, farmers can see the health of their field in a color contrasted viewing mode.
Producers fly their drones over their fields, and the drones record what they fly over in a contrasted color, allowing their controller to see just how much essential sunlight is being absorbed by the crop canopy. Drones flying over a crop field can also be used to collect plant height measurements by gathering information on the distance between the ground and the top of the growing plants. All of this can then be compiled to ascertain just how healthy the crop actually is, and if it is in need of aid, just what help to give.
With a thermal camera equipped, a drone will be able to detect which areas of the land are cooler and therefore well watered, in addition to the drier hotter patches. Farmers can then use this information to adjust how much they irrigate and where. This may not be so important in wetter climates, but to such areas like California and Western Australia, this may prove crucial when it comes to efficient water management.
Also, by increasing water and by-and-large fertilizer efficiency, drones will also reduce the runoff from excess fertilization. This runoff has been a powerful agent of change in ecosystems. It runs into water bodies such as ponds, lakes, and rivers where it becomes food for algae, which then bloom out of control, clouding the surface of the water and preventing vital sunlight from reaching down below. This sets off a chain reaction, killing most things from the top of the food chain down.
These are but a few of the ways in which drone usage can benefit the agricultural industry. There are possibly hundreds of more ways that these useful little constructions can be used to help the industry, and for those farmers who have already begun to use them, the next few years could be very exciting indeed as the technology which governs drones moves forwards in leaps and bounds.
© 2019 Jameel Evans