Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are becoming increasingly popular in mainstream society for their wide range of capabilities from military to recreational use. But, when you think of drones, their prospective use in agriculture may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Surprisingly enough, agriculture is one of the most prominent industries in which UAVs are taking farming businesses to the next level. The agricultural industry is always working to improve operations to meet societal needs without compromising the environment and future generations; therefore, making sustainability a growing interest – this is where drones come into play.
Time is of the essence in the agricultural industry, and drones have the capability of completely revolutionizing the amount of it necessary to manage large crop fields. In the past, farmers needed to evaluate their fields manually and by foot or tractor. With drone technology, farmers can get aerial views of their crop fields, or even hone-in on a specific area, to collect data almost instantly about field conditions. If specific areas need immediate attention, farmers can quickly track those locations with drone GPS technology and make changes and updates to fields, as necessary.
Along with saving time, drones also help improve accuracy. Drones collect precise data that help farmers make long-term decisions about replanting, ground mapping, damage control and more. In instances where fields are not accessible by foot or tractor, for example, data collection by drone technology can quickly and accurately provide farmers with that crucial information. Collecting detailed data on fields allows farmers to organize appropriate plans for application of fertilizers, pesticides, and even water, bringing the cycle full circle back to the desire for environmental and agricultural sustainability.
Time and accuracy are, of course, highly important for an agricultural business– but now you may be itching for more details. Here are some of the other significant uses of drones in the agricultural industry:
Using drones to collect RGB imagery, near infrared imagery, and normalized difference vegetative index all provide aerial, color gradient images to point out areas in fields where there are strong and weak crops, planter skips, headland tracks, and even locations that need excess water.
Drones equipped with sensors can determine crop height through range measurements when flying over a field.
Some drones can be fitted to tanks of fertilizers/pesticides and be programmed by GPS to spray crops accordingly.
In the future, it is expected that drones will become an even more common tool in the agricultural business. With this prediction, it is important that agriculture students and aspiring farmers are introduced to drone technology during their academic career. Agricultural education must begin to follow suit with the introduction of drones so that students can be fully prepared to adapt accordingly to the growing usage of this technology in their field.
Aidex suggests introducing drones to your agricultural business curriculum to open the door for opportunity for students. If you are interested in introducing drones to your Ag Program or academic curriculum, learn about MINDS-i Drone Labs and contact us to help your agriculture program take liftoff!