5 Reasons to Use Drones in Agriculture

Drones in agriculture are not a piece of big news and there are many successful case studies. What are the main areas of use in agriculture?
by Maryna Kuzmenko | 8th February 2016 | 4 min read
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Drones in agriculture are not a piece of big news. There are many successful case studies of using agriculture drones and increasing yields thanks to data, obtained by these machines. But what are the main areas of their use? How can they help an ordinary farmer or landowner?

Drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are an indispensable part of modern agriculture. But what is their value to farmers and landowners? Agricultural experts call a few key advantages of drones in agriculture. Let’s look at each of the cases of their application in more detail.

1. Aerial photography of the fields and crops

Let’s start with the keywords “aerial photography”. In one of the books on geodesy, a definition of aerial photography is the following “a complex of works for topographic maps, plans and digital terrain models using photographic materials areas with aircraft or from space. We believe that this definition is true. Go ahead – what is aerial photography of the area?

The easiest way to answer this question in one sentence is when you need to shoot not only taking into account the overlapping of images but also cross their overlap. After all, in linear aerial photography, you need only longitudinal images to overlap. Thus, the use of unmanned drones and aircraft make it possible to get the maximum amount of data on the field for a short period of time.

And then we come to the next important part of working with these innovative technologies. In other words, it needs to analyze the data, which was obtained as a result of flying over the field. What to do with the images obtained from the heights?

2. Data Analysis with Agriculture Drones

Experts unanimously replied that the processing of drone images is a “blue ocean” for future entrepreneurs. Now there are several methods of data analysis of the images obtained with agriculture drones and UAVs. But effective programs and applications for solving this problem are not available. We have already written about some of the main points. For example, when interpreting the images obtained as a result of aerial photography (i.e. NDVI maps). But it is also important to take into account the basic needs that are identified in the specifications.

Also, we strongly believe in Petiole. This mobile application for leaf area measurement and chlorophyll content assessment is an ideal tool for in-field calibration of results obtained by agriculture drones.

That is what the customer wants to know: how many weeds in the field? What percentage of the plants went up? What type of soil does he have? Analysis of aerial photos without a specific purpose and the request is simply impossible: to describe all the parameters needs a lot of time, which in turn devalues these pictures. Every day there are changes in the field and in aerial photography, we can see the only fixed state of the field at a particular time interval. Hence, this wide area is one of the best perspectives for the use of drones in agriculture.

3. A soil survey is another key focus of the use of drones in agriculture.

There are four main cases where aerial photography in agriculture is highly desirable, as no other method can provide information about the soil with such precision. For example, this applies to the areas with a high complexity of the soil cover of the study area, as well as the organization of the territory of special purpose vehicles (airports, factories, landfills, etc.).

Aerial photography is recommended for detailed characterization of the soil on the territory of strain-testing stations. It will be good to use agriculture drones on experimental stations, forestry and nursery gardens. In general, it is important to note that the conduct of any soil-reclamation and soil erosion research in stationary and semi-stationary conditions require the construction of cards with data that can only be obtained with the help of drones.

A separate area for soil mapping is planning to grow the most demanding technical and horticultural crops. These crops include tea, tobacco, essential oil, citrus fruits and other crops.

4. Protection of the Crop

Agriculture drones can protect crops. In real-time, they ensure the transmission of information on violations, theft, fire and other unforeseen circumstances. These circumstances can happen on the field and affect the crop.

In fact, speed is a very important factor in using these technologies. Fast and unmanned drones allow you to track any changes while maintaining good image quality.

Stationary cameras can not boast of this feature. In addition, given the speed of their work, these automated “field guards” can fly around the greater number of crops. Especially if the fields are the same owner nearby.

5. Adding Trichogramma and Chemical Treatment

Pest management is one of the key areas where agriculture drones can help. Trichogramma is a small insect, a butterfly, no larger than 1 mm. It parasites in eggs of more than 100 species of insects-pests in agriculture. As a result, Trichogramma females lay their eggs in the eggs of insect pests. Therefore, it completely stops the crop pests. Hence, Trichogramma is used as an organic means to control insects that destroy crops. Trichogramma is spread in a variety of ways. However, one of the most effective methods is to spray Trichogramma using drones.

Regarding the use of drones in agriculture to make plant protection (also quadrupeds), the benefits of their usage lie in the possibility of reducing consumption of expensive plant protection products by reducing coatings, as well as turning off the sprayer sections on the headland. Together with the chemical treatment, there is widespread use of moto- hang-gliders and light aircraft for ultra-low processing. Although, the liquid pesticide spraying niche by using agriculture drones and quadcopters is open and very attractive for future agricultural innovators.

In these five areas, drones and UAVs are an essential part of effective work. But if you have any other idea of using unmanned aircraft in agriculture – come to our microphone, let us tell you about your knowledge on the entire Internet :).

Finally, we also consider the disadvantages of using drones in agriculture. It will be definitely useful to read for people who are interested in this business.

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