Recently, the interest for drones (UAV) is becoming bigger and as a result, the technology is improving. Practical applications of drones are being developed for the consumer and business market. One of the many practical ways a drone can be used for is agriculture. Drones are becoming a very important tool for farmers since the number of farmers that use advanced technology in crop management (smart farming) is increasing. The market for agricultural drones is changing quickly due to technology development. One of the most important features of drones in the agriculture industry is thermal imaging.
DRONES IN AGRICULTURE
Drones are bringing development, new and precise technology to the agricultural industry. Most of the drones for agricultural use are medium-sized (for analysis applications) and larger drones are used when there is a need to carry a load (planting or spraying). In agriculture, multi-rotor configurations are favorite.
AGRICULTURAL APPLICATIONS OF DRONES
- Soil and field analysis
Drones have the capability of producing 3D maps (in a quick and cheap way), which later can be used for the design of seed planting patterns.
- Crop monitoring
Drones can monitor crops more accurately and frequently that satelite, and they also provide more quality data. Crop monitoring gives you an insight into crop development.
- Health assessment
One of the drone features is creating a multispectral images of crops, which after analysis can show you changes in health of your crops. For example, this feature allows you to detect a bacterial or fungal infection of the crops – if identified early, it gives you the chance to take a quick action and save your crops.
Drones with special equipment can be used to identify when a field is having a „hydric stress“ (inadequate level of water). With the use of infrared and thermal sensors, they provide snapshots of the entire field which will show you where is too much water or too little.
- Crop spraying
Drones are suitable for all kinds of complex terrain, because they can easily adjust their altitude and flight path according to the surrounding topography. This feature allows them to scan the ground and apply the liquids on a fast and precise way.
*Spraying drones have greater precision and are five times faster than traditional spray methods.
3D mapping with agricultural drones
With this technology feature, drones collect information about critical factors, such as field geogprahy, soil composition and also from growing crops are collecting data about irrigation and nitrogen levels. Modern drones have multispectral, hyperspectral and thermal sensing technology.
*FAA CONSIDERS ALL AGRICULTURE DRONE ACTIVITY AS A COMMERCIAL DRONE OPERATION, which means you must have a Remote Pilot Certificate.
How do drones help farmers?
Since agricultural drones are quite expensive, you might ask yourself „What will I gain if I invest so much money into a drone?“ This may be a lot of money for your budget, but with a drone, you can increase your yields, save time, increase return on investment, you will have crop health imaging, water efficiency on your field.
Agricultural drones are advanced tools for data collecting that are meant for serious professionals. There are two types of professionals that agricultural drones are meant for: farmers and agriculture service providers.
On the market, we can find two types of agricultural drones: fixed- wing UAV and multi –rotor drones.
THE BEST AGRICULTURAL DRONE MODELS CURRENTLY ON THE MARKET:
DJI Agras T16 (check the review)
Phantom 4 RTK
senseFly eBee SQ
Parrot Disco-Pro Ag