It seems drones are everywhere these days. They became known as a way for unmanned aircraft to carry out military surveillance and attacks, and now hobbyists use them to take stunning photos and videos from the sky. Amazon has even tinkered with the idea of using drones for home delivery. As is the case with most new forms of technology, more and more uses for drones will become available over time. Here's a look at how drones can and will impact the agriculture and farming industry.
One of the best thing about drones is they give humans the ability to get a bird's eye view. This can come in very handy for farmers that need to efficiently manage thousands of acres of crops. Using a drone equipped with a high-definition camera, farmers can quickly sweep over their land to look for spots that may be irrigated too much or too little.
Drones can also be outfitted with the equipment necessary to spray crops with fertilizer, herbicide or pesticides — and do so at the fraction of the cost it might take to accomplish the same thing with an airplane or helicopter. In addition, the unmanned devices can use sensors to provide details about crops, such as temperature and moisture levels, and they can do it much more effectively than satellite technology does it now.
So, what is the advantage or incentive for farmers looking to use drones? As always, a big one is money. Crop imaging using manned aircraft can cost up to $1,000 per hour, while a drone that can do the same thing can be purchased outright for about the same price.
Another advantage drones offer farmers is convenience. For instance, it might take a team of farmers and a day or more to survey a field of crops on foot, looking for problem areas or spots that aren't receiving enough water. With a well-equipped drone or two, however, the same work could be completed in hours, and all while the team is completing other tasks.
One more benefit of drones is technology. Agriculture, like many other industries, is becoming more and more reliant on data. Drones can facilitate the collection of the data needed to make a farm more efficient. In one example, the data collected by a drone can help farmers investigate how they can use less irrigation and pesticides - which is not only good for the farmer, but for the environment as a whole.
Drones many not be a huge part of mainstream agriculture just yet, but that day is approaching. It won't be long before farmers are using drones to make their operations more time- and cost-efficient.
Sources: FAA, IBM, Tucson.com, MIT Technology Review. Image: Pixabay