The buzz of drones has grown exponentially in the last few years, and it doesn’t seem to be quieting down anytime soon. They have become a household toy for kids and adults alike. Drones are transitioning from toy to tool in order to battle real-world problems. The next step: Drone farming.
Experts have estimated that the total value of drone-powered solutions throughout many different industries is more than $127 billion. Perhaps one of the most important solutions is one dealing with agriculture.
New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher believes that drone farming is now essential in precision agriculture. He compares the innovation to agriculture just as huge as the transition from horse-drawn plows to tractors. Farming with drones is becoming a reality and the takeover may be here sooner than later.
The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. With more people comes a higher demand for food, and ultimately agricultural efficiency. Just like any other industry, agriculturists must look into innovative ideas to fix problems with new technology.
That’s where drones come in.
Drones are able to create super accurate 3D maps of agricultural fields. Farmers can use these maps when creating seed planting patterns. This also allows farmers to have an upper hand when planning irrigation efficiencies as well as nitrogen-level management. Drones can see what parts of a field are dry or need irrigation as well by using thermal sensors.
Companies are starting to invest in creating drones that will physically plant seeds into fields. Eventually, this could get rid of the need for big expensive tractors. Drones will shoot pods containing seeds and plant food into the soil with an uptake rate of 75% while decreasing planting costs by 85%.
Perhaps the most useful and effective solution when it comes to drone farming is crop spraying. Drones have sensors allowing them to tell exactly how high they are off the ground, allowing them to stay an even distance above plants to spray. They can also be programmed to spray specific areas and plants rather than wasting chemicals on the ground. Drones are about five times faster at aerial spraying than traditional machine spraying.
By using drones to scan your crop they can pick up on disease and sickness quick, which could save an entire yield if caught early. They use visible and near-infrared light to determine the amounts of green light and NIR light plants are giving off which reflects their health and any changes that are occurring. Also, by simply getting live feeds of plants farmers can see real-time if there’s any damages or problems occurring in their huge fields they otherwise could only see from satellite imagery that requires advanced image orders and weren’t as precise.
Although the benefits of farming with drones are overwhelming, Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher claims that they may not be the right choice for every farmer. These high-tech machines go for around 50 grand and aren’t easy to work with.
Douglas explains that it’s not as easy as just throwing it out onto a field and letting it do all the work. There needs to be understanding of its technology between the farmer and the data it gives in order to farm successfully.
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