Agricultural drones have made it possible for farmers to have an aerial view of their farms from the sky. From carrying out surveys to crop assessments, these automatic flight vehicles have opened many possibilities in farming that can improve crop production. We have highlighted three ways agricultural drones are impacting the agricultural sector:
With a bird’s eye view on farmlands, drones have become a useful part of crop irrigation. Their ability to provide topographical details make irrigation more efficient.
Drones have been built in a way that they can see what humans cannot see with the natural eyes. With their hyperspectral, multispectral and thermal cameras/sensors, they can detect dry areas of farmland which require improvements.
Drones can also track and monitor water usage, thus avoiding water wastage and enhancing water efficiency. They can also determine possible leaks in irrigation, causing the farmer to take action while it’s still early.
Farming accounts for 70% of the water consumed, and most of it goes to waste. However, with drones aiding precision agriculture, they can provide crops with the exact amount water needed for growth.
Also, some fields are not universally flat. This could cause some areas to dry out faster than some and thus, differences in irrigation. From human eye level, it may be difficult to spot this but drones can reveal the dry spots and tend to them.
They can also detect faulty irrigation equipment and leaks for the farmers to attend to. They can capture imagery which could be turned into 3D maps of the field. These maps can show how water flows through the roots of plants and can help control erosion.
2. Crop Spraying:
Aside from delivering water to plants, farmers can use drones to apply fertilizer and pesticides where needed.
Overuse of pesticides and fertilizers could cause environmental damage. However, with drones calculating and applying the exact amount requires, this damage could be avoided.
Drones can also analyze nitrogen absorption at different stages of a crop’s development. This information could be pertinent in farmer’s decision about the best time to spray fertilizer and where to spray it.
Before drones came along, farmers needed specialized agricultural aircraft to spray powdered insecticide or fertilizer from the air. This was expensive and not entirely precise. The use of agricultural drones has made it easier to spray powdered fertilizer and insecticides in farmland, at a precise rate.
While spraying crops manually, the fertilizer and pesticide could land on unintended crops and livestock. This is why precision is necessary in carrying out these tasks. Spraying drones are aided by lasers and ultrasonic technology which gives them more precision, reducing the risk of over-spray and they’re also five times faster than traditional method of spraying, which saves time.
3. Crop Assessment:
Drones now have multispectral sensors which can record non-visible wavelengths such as infrared radiation and ultraviolet light. This makes it easier for farmers to identify pest damage and act on it. Leaving an infected crop increases the risk of disease spread among other crops. However, with drones, it is easier to identify and treat infected crops on time.
Farmers can use drones to assess crops for nutrients and water deficiency and supply them where necessary. They can also use drones to monitor pathogens which could cause wilt among crops. Assessing crop health for fungal infections and bacteria are another function of drones.
In cases of natural disasters, drones can be used to provide insurance with an accurate quantification of damage done. Sometimes less accurate claims could lead to an unsatisfactory ending for both the insurance company and the farmer but drones offer precision. With the aerial view they offer, they can assess the crops and report the damage done. Farmers can also use drones to asses crops and determine if they’re ripe for harvest.
What do you think about agricultural drones? Do you think it’s going to move farming forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.