It's no secret that agriculture has changed a lot in recent years. Farmers are using new technologies to increase yields and improve efficiency. One of the most promising new technologies is drone technology.
So, what are drones used for? Agricultural drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that can be used for a variety of tasks, from mapping fields to spraying crops. Drones offer a number of advantages over traditional methods, including improved accuracy and increased safety.
In addition, drones in agriculture can cover large areas in a short period of time, making them ideal for surveying crops or inspecting fields. As agricultural drones become more widespread, they are sure to have a major impact on the way farmers work.
How are drones used in agriculture exactly?
Nowadays, more and more farmers are realising that drones and agriculture give several benefits when they go hand in hand, which is why the use of drones in agriculture has steadily increased throughout the years. It puts an end to the traditional labour-intensive farming model that’s also known for draining resources.
Here are some of the most important use of drones in agriculture:
Soil and Field Analysis
Drones can help farmers figure out where to plant their crops. They use these drones to make 3D maps of the soil. This is useful for planning where to put the seeds. After the plants are planted, drones fly over the fields and take pictures of the ground. This helps farmers know how much water and nitrogen they need to give their crops.
Drones are superior to human labourers when it comes to this aspect. For one, drones are battery operated and will keep going at the same pace as long as their batteries have charge. They will not stop to rest or slow down because they don’t get tired. They also remain operational at night, maintaining optimum visibility even with minimal lighting.
Some startups have created systems where drones shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil. This helps plants grow better because they don't have to find food themselves. These systems are cheaper, too, because you don't need as many people to do the planting. More advanced drone systems allow the operator to program planting to be as even as possible, preventing crowding and early plant death.
Some drones can go as fast as five times the traditional method with noticeably lower losses when it comes to seed supply.
Distance-measuring equipment helps drones avoid crashing into things. This equipment uses sound waves or lasers to measure how far away things are. Drones can then use this information to figure out how high they need to fly to avoid hitting things. This means that drones can spray liquids more evenly, which means fewer chemicals will end up in the groundwater, instead of being wasted on the leaves. Some drones have been known to spray up to five times faster compared to manual irrigation.
This also does not just apply to water, but to any form of liquid fertiliser as well. The equal application guarantees excellent coverage which means equally healthy crops regardless of their position in the field.
One of the biggest problems in farming is that it is hard to know what is going on in the fields. This is because there are vast areas, and it is difficult to see everything from satellites. The weather conditions are also changing a lot, so it is hard to plan for the future. Another problem is that it used to be hard to get information about what was happening in the fields. You could only order pictures once a day, and they were not very accurate.
The quality of images often suffered on certain days in the past. Today, time-series animations can show the development of a crop precisely and reveal production inefficiencies. This enables better crop management. Better yet, you can get images in a matter of minutes depending on how big the area is. Accuracy has been greatly improved in the newer drone models, making monitoring an easy feat.
Drones with sensors can help you see which parts of a field need improvement. They can also help you calculate the health of crops while they are growing and show how much energy the crops are emitting. What would take weeks for labourers to accomplish can easily be done by drones in days, even a matter of hours.
It is important to assess crop health and figure out if there are any bacterial or fungal infections on trees. By scanning a crop using visible light and near-infrared light, devices on drones are able to identify the plants which reflect varying amounts of green light, a good indicator of plant health. This information makes it possible to track even the smallest changes in plants, which in turn will allow you to act fast when it comes to treatment. It’s a brilliant way to prevent disease spread regardless of the size of the farm.
Farmers can apply and monitor remedies more precisely when sickness is discovered. This makes it more likely that the plant will overcome the disease. If there is a crop failure, the farmer will be able to document losses more efficiently for insurance claims.
Overcoming the Challenges in Adopting Drone Use
What is stopping drones from being used more in agriculture? There are many things that stop drones from being adopted in every industry- like safety, privacy issues, and insurance. But for agriculture, the biggest issue is the type of data that can be captured. That’s why the industry is pushing for better sensors and cameras on drones. They are also trying to make drones that are easier to use and don't need as much training.
Manufacturers like XAG are consistently creating solutions that may be used in the future to address agricultural issues. If you want to learn more about these agriculture drones, check out XAG’s website today.