To realize how the drones have revolutionized agriculture, solving countless problems and bringing innumerable advantages to farmers, we must first realize a little bit about the uses of the drones in this industry and what they actually allow to do.
Drones fly over the field and take high resolution pictures. The data gathered is directly sent to the cloud/software and made available to the customer. Thanks to this data, the user can select the information wanted from the images and make different prescription maps depending on the operation the farmer wants to perform on the field.
The industry of agriculture has been changing and all of his processes and machines has been passing through a revolution among the years, especially a high-tech revolution. It is here that drones have played a key role in enabling farmers to plan their strategy based on collecting and processing data in real-time. In a more general way, drones can provide to the farmers three types of detailed views:
- First, seeing a crop from the air can reveal patterns that expose everything from irrigation problems to soil variation and even pest and fungal infestations that aren’t apparent at eye level.
- Second, airborne cameras can take multispectral images, capturing data from the infrared as well as the visual spectrum, which can be combined to create a view of the crop that highlights differences between healthy and distressed plants in a way that can’t be seen with the naked eye.
- Finally, a drone can survey a crop every week, every day, or even every hour. Combined to create a time-series animation, that imagery can show changes in the crop, revealing trouble spots or opportunities for better crop management.
However, it is also important to know what drones can do in a more specific way. Thus, drones can be used in agriculture in different ways:
- Soil and field analysis: The role of drones is crucial right at the beginning of the crop cycle. They produce 3D maps that allow an early analysis of the soil, very useful for planning seeds planting patterns.
- Planting: Startups have created drone-planting systems that achieve an uptake rate of 75 percent and decrease planting costs by 85 percent. These systems shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil, providing the plant all the nutrients necessary to sustain life.
- Crop spraying: Distance-measuring equipment—ultrasonic echoing and lasers such as those used in the light-detection and ranging, or LiDAR, method—enables a drone to adjust altitude as the topography and geography vary, and thus avoid collisions. Consequently, drones can scan the ground and spray the correct amount of liquid, modulating distance from the ground and spraying in real time for even coverage. The result: increased efficiency with a reduction of in the amount of chemicals penetrating into groundwater. In fact, experts estimate that aerial spraying can be completed up to five times faster with drones than with traditional machinery.
Crop monitoring: Vast fields and low efficiency in crop monitoring together create farming’s largest obstacle. Monitoring challenges are exacerbated by increasingly unpredictable weather conditions, which drive risk and field maintenance costs. Previously, satellite imagery offered the most advanced form of monitoring. But there were drawbacks. Images had to be ordered in advance, could be taken only once a day, and were imprecise. Further, services were extremely costly and the images’ quality typically suffered on certain days. Today, time-series animations can show the precise development of a crop and reveal production inefficiencies, enabling better crop management.
Irrigation: Drones with hyperspectral, multispectral or thermal sensors allow identify areas that are dry or in need of treatment. In addition, throughout the crop cycle, drones allow you to calculate the vegetation index and show the amount of energy or heat that the crop emits.
Health assessment: It’s essential to assess crop health and spot bacterial or fungal infections on trees. By scanning a crop using both visible and near-infrared light, drone-carried devices can identify which plants reflect different amounts of green light and NIR light. This information can produce multispectral images that track changes in plants and indicate their health. A speedy response can save an entire orchard. In addition, as soon as a sickness is discovered, farmers can apply and monitor remedies more precisely. These two possibilities increase a plant’s ability to overcome disease. And in the case of crop failure, the farmer will be able to document losses more efficiently for insurance claims.
First image: A drone from PrecisionHawk is equipped with multiple sensors to image fields.
Second image: This image depicts vegetation in near-infrared light to show chlorophyll levels.
Measure the properties – Farmers can use drones to measure their properties using the high-quality images of this technology
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