How Drones Are Used in Agriculture

April 8

As more industries search for modern, inventive solutions to issues of sustainability, productivity, and other challenges, drone technology has become more prevalent across a wide range of industries.

This prevalence offers a growing catalogue of job opportunities in a variety of fields in need of drones — and pilots to fly them.

Chief among these industries is agriculture, where unpredictable weather, irrigation issues, pest control, and even crop disease can have a huge impact on the management and effectiveness of farms across Australia.

Whereas traditional methods of managing these issues are still possible, they are expensive, time-consuming, often environmentally harmful, and highly complicated for everyone involved.

Drones offer the unique opportunity to streamline agricultural work in a variety of ways, taking the burden off the farmers themselves and placing it in the capable hands of drone pilots.

 

Precision Agriculture

With the global demand for food continuously growing, there is a constant question of how the world will produce enough food to feed its growing population.

As population increases and available farmland decreases, it becomes increasingly difficult to come up with long-term, sustainable solutions in regard to agricultural practices.

For many, the answer is precision agriculture – using new technologies to increase crop yields and profitability while simultaneously using less of what’s traditionally needed to grow crops, such as land, water, and fertiliser.

One example of this is GPS on tractors, which allows farmers to plant crops in more efficient patterns. This, in turn, allows the tractors to travel between destinations more precisely and efficiently, saving time and fuel.

Another example is drones.

 

The Benefits of Using Drones

Drones are a classic example of a technology that allows farmers to focus on the potential of the future without worrying about the limitations of today.

The use of drones in agriculture provides several key advantages that lessen labour, expense, and resources across the industry.

 

1) Photo Capturing Technology

As an aerial technology, a drone can easily access the agricultural area in question, whether it’s a tight space or a wide-open field.

The drone surveys the area and captures high-quality images which can then be utilised on their own or turned into detailed, three-dimensional maps – all without disturbing the farmers, their crops, or the surrounding environment.

This allows farmers to better plan their seed planting patterns, conduct soil analysis, and stay up-to-date with how their plants are growing.

Additionally, they can address any issues that arise in real time, such as issues with pests or other unwanted visitors, crop yield, weather, and other agricultural contingencies.

 

2) Data and Monitoring

The photos and real-time coverage drones provide enable farmers to inspect irrigation equipment, monitor pesticides and fertilisers, and gather plant and environmental data.

This allows them to make informed, immediate decisions about issues concerning output, management, and even overall crop health.

Drone technology allows farmers to precisely survey their crops, providing high-level data about yield that allows them to predict yield for future seasons.

This kind of data continuously revolutionises the efficiency of the process, allowing farmers to maximise their yield and limit their expendable resources on a greater scale each year.

 

3) Pesticide and Fertiliser Distribution

To maintain high yields, crops require constant fertilisation and spraying. Whereas crop dusters are expensive and potentially risky for both pilots and those on the ground below, drones come at a fraction of the cost and involve no risk to the pilot.

Crashes, while unlikely, are likely to occur over open fields where no one below can be injured. This eliminates the risk associated with planes flying at high speeds at low altitudes traditionally used for crop dusting.

Drones can easily replace traditional crop dusters because they can be equipped with large reservoirs for fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides. Using drones for this purpose is safer, faster, and much more cost-effective.

Not only can drones disseminate pesticides and fertilisers, but they also allow for a precise measurement of plant health, allowing for a more controlled application of these sprays.

This results in a reduction of the amount of chemicals used, lowering the overall environmental impact.

Drones provide a healthier, sustainable alternative to traditional crop dusting and accomplish the job much faster than traditional machinery.

 

4) Irrigation

With the correct sensors, drones can identify which parts of a field are receiving too little or too much water. Additionally, once the crop is growing, drones allow for a precise measurement of the health, heat, and density of the crop, allowing for irrigation adjustments to be made as the plants grow.

From the start, crops can be better laid out to maximise drainage, avoid pooling water, and mitigate unnecessary damage to sensitive crops.

 

5) Planting

Some companies are starting to experiment with drone planting, a system that allows drones to shoot pods with seeds and nutrients directly into the soil, allowing farmers to start the growth process without the need for manual labour or traditional machinery.

This is not only highly efficient but reduces the overall cost of planting.

 

Drone checking temperature - UAV Training Australia

Overall, these benefits increase efficiency across the farming process, allowing farmers to identify and solve problems before they’ve even begun.

This service is made possible by drones and the drone pilots who operate them. As productivity and efficiency increase as a result of drone technology, the demand for drones rises, making this a pivotal time for drone operation and development across the globe.

 

The Future of Drones in Agriculture

There is huge potential for drones to continue to revolutionise the agriculture industry. The eventual goal is fleets of drones that can tackle agricultural monitoring and other tasks collectively from both the ground and the air.

As a relatively new technology, some industries are still trying to hash out the details of widespread drone adoption and what that will look like for each individual company.

However, as drone technology advances, so too will the quality of available sensors, upgrades, and, in turn, the overall quality of the data drones provide. As data quality increases, the demand for drones will rise.

As we are already seeing a huge influx in drone usage in agriculture across the globe, the prediction is that this usage will continue to grow into an even more vibrant enterprise.

 

Become a Part of History

The exciting thing about new technology is the opportunity to be a part of history in the making.

Learning to operate this kind of technology now means being an integral component of the advancement of agriculture and other industries like it as we see new technological advancements across the landscape of drone technology.

That’s why the time to start flying drones is now before the industry takes full flight without you! Though the demand for qualified drone pilots keeps rising, there isn’t nearly enough to meet that demand, presenting a perfect opportunity for those wanting to be part of something rewarding, innovative, and profitable.

In fact, agriculture is just one of the many applications for current drone technology, with new applications materialising every single day. If agriculture isn’t the field for you (no pun intended), there’s likely the perfect fit just around the corner. If you’re interested in piloting drones for this industry or others, we’re ready to help you get started.

Drones in Agriculture - UAV Training Australia


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