Drones have been used for years now, in different field like entertainment, security and so on. Let’s talk about its use of drones for Agriculture. Drones are also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs), which has started being commercially used since the early 1980s till to date. Within such period of time, the practical application of drones has expanded at a fast rate in various industries. This is due to robust investment and loosening of some regulations when it involves their use. Different companies are producing new business operating models of UAVs, as a response to the fast advancing technology.
The total value of commercial drone-powered use in all industries where they are applicable is up to $127.3 billion, according to PwC analysis. The use of drones in agriculture will increase over the years, as the population of people inflates. By the year 2050, experts say the population on earth will be around 9 billion people. With such a population the demand for food will be on a new high. That is to say, consumption of agricultural produce will increase up to 70%. Not only high demand for agricultural produce is being expected, also the extreme weather conditions are on the rise which is an additional obstacle for agriculture.
Due to the ever-increasing problems being faced in agriculture as years go by, agricultural producers must discover revolutionary strategies for producing food, increase productivity level and makes sustainability a priority. Drones can be a part of the solution. The solution can also involve the collaboration between several governments, industries and technology leaders.
The drones can give agricultural industries a high-tech makeover, by planning and strategies based on real-time data processing and gathering. Experts (PwC) says the estimated market for drones in agriculture is at $32 billion.
The following ways listed below are the ways ground-based drones are used during an entire crop cycle:
- For Soil and field analysis: drones can be used at the beginning of a crop cycle. Thanks to their cameras, they can produce almost 3D maps for early analysis of the soil and they are useful planning patterns of planting seeds in the land. The soil analysis done by drones will provide data for irrigation and management of Nitrogen-level.
- Planting: startups have created drone planting systems that are quite effective, this systems has an uptake rate of 75% and decrease the cost of planting by 85%. The system involves shooting seeds into pods and planting nutrients into the soil thereby providing the plant all the nutrition important for sustaining life.
- Crop spraying: the feature light-detection and ranging (LiDAR) enables the drone to adjust its altitude as the geography and topography vary. Thus, drones will scan the ground and spray the appropriate amount of chemicals into the soil while controlling its distance from the ground and spraying in real time for even coverage. Crop spraying increases efficiency and reduces the number of chemicals trying to mix with the groundwater. Experts say crop spraying performed by drones is much faster compared to the traditional machinery.
- Crop monitoring: one of the problems in agriculture is the presence o a vast field that cannot be well monitored. Monitoring cause by increasing unpredictable weather conditions, which is a huge risk and can lead to an increase in the cost of field maintenance. This problem was solved by the use of satellites imagery, but the image will have to be ordered in advance and images can only be taken once a day. The cost of satellite imagery is quite costly and not really the best quality compared to a drone which can take as much quality pictures as you want and it’s cost effective.
- Irrigation: drones can even be used to irrigate the farmland. Drones with hyperspectral, multispectral or thermosensors are able to detect the dry part of a field. Once thee, the drones will calculate the vegetation index which will describe the health of the crops and show the heat signature.