How are drones revolutionizing agriculture

Drones are useful in doing 3D soil map's precise analysis, irrigation, planting, spraying, cattle herd monitoring, crop maturity prediction, soil sampling, NDVI and more.

How are drones revolutionizing agriculture
drones-for-agriculture

How are drones revolutionizing agriculture

World's population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, with agricultural consumption increased by 70% till then.

According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, 80% of the commercial drone market will be acquired by agriculture. Similarly, The American Farm Bureau Federation said that "farmers could see a return on investment of agriculture drones of $12% per acre for corn and $2% to $3% per acre for soybeans and wheat."

With today's decreasing agricultural land, high labour cost and change in climate conditions, various alternatives are always welcomed to fulfil the ever-increasing food demand. These Flying robots are very helpful for precise farming in order to use limited sources completely. 

In September 2002, NASA's solar-powered Pathfinder Plus UAV conducted a proof of concept mission in US national air space above 1500 ha plantation of the Kauai Coffee Company in Huwai and monitored the area for an extended time period with downsized imaging systems and line of sight telemetry. 

WATCH VIDEO: Major Benefits of Using Drones in Agriculture

 

Drones are useful in doing 3D soil map's precise analysis, irrigation, planting, spraying, cattle herd monitoring, crop maturity prediction, soil sampling, NDVI and more. They could even zoom up to inches and count individual plant. 

Here is how a farmer could enhance his productivity by using drones:

  • With the help of UAV, a farmer could monitor vast fields and irrigate the areas which seem to be dry. This will also reduce the wastage of water.
  • Pesticides could be applied easily and efficiently with the help of a sprayer system mounted on UAV.
  • Drones reduce cost, time and money and help increase productivity.
  • Greenhouses: microclimatic conditions inside the greenhouse are easy to control with the help of drones.
  • Meteorological station network: various prevailing weather and climatic conditions in the field such as wind velocity, sunshine hours, precipitation etc. are studied to apply future measures.
  • Compost formation: temperature and humidity required for the formation of compost are monitored in order to prevent decay due to fungus or excess moisture. 
  • Soil sampling: soil samples from different parts of the field could be collected with the help of claws present in UAV and then, soil analysis could be done to determine the composition of the soil.

 Various agriculture drones available in the market are Honeycomb Ag Drone system, DJI matrice 100, Agras MG-1-DJI, SOLO AGCO Edition, Freyr drone etc.  Common sensors used are multispectral, thermal, Lidar, hyperspectral, still cameras and videos. 

Farmers could easily obtain real-time data and use maps to monitor field conditions. Some drones such as Freyr could be easily controlled by android app. 

The primitive plough has been replaced by tractors and cultivators. The irrigation system is improved to drip and sprinkler irrigation. Now Agriculture drone is the next step towards Smart Agriculture. Next generation drones may have features like charging stations between flights and integration with pesticide application.