Exploring the Use of Drones in Agriculture

September 15

Exploring the Use of Drones in Agriculture

Australia’s agriculture industry is facing increasing pressure from pests, diseases, population shifts and changing weather patterns. These things have always been a challenge, but farmers are now searching for innovative solutions.

Drones have rapidly emerged as the answer. One of the world’s fastest-growing technologies, drones have the potential to completely change the way we think about agriculture.

These flexible systems can perform a huge range of traditional farm work for a fraction of the time and money.

That opens up a world of possibilities for improving Australia’s food production and security for years to come. In this article, we’ll explore the use of drones in agriculture and how they’re benefiting an evolving industry.

Drone surveying a crop field

 

How Farmers are Using Drones in Agriculture

Agricultural drones have come a long way in a short space of time. The technology has proven itself to be useful for small and large-scale farming applications. The versatility of modern drone platforms means they can be used to perform a huge range of common agricultural tasks.

The agriculture industry is now using drones for:

  • Crop spraying. One of the leading uses of agricultural drones is for spraying pesticides, herbicides, fertiliser and other treatments.

  • Crops require additives to improve health, increase yield and protect them from bugs. Using drones for crop spraying improves coverage and accuracy of spraying, reduces labour and minimises the amount of material used.

  • Crop monitoring. Crop yield is everything in the farming business. The more plants that survive, the better the profits. Monitoring hundreds of hectares of crops is a challenge, but drones are especially effective for this task.

  • Drones can capture true colour imagery, and they can also be equipped with multispectral sensors that detect when plants are in distress. This work was traditionally performed by teams on the ground, and it could take weeks to assess the health of a field.

  • Using drones to monitor crop health provides greater oversight and allows farmers to fix problem areas before crops are lost to pests, disease and other problems.

  • Planting and seeding. The latest agriculture drones are capable of planting pods and seeds directly into the soil. This allows farmers to start the growing process without the need for traditional machinery.

  • Flow mapping. Managing water is one of the most important tasks on a farm. Using flow mapping, agricultural drones can measure surface water and water flows. This data can be used to plan irrigation channels, dam locations and to monitor areas that struggle with moisture.

  • Project management. Farms never stop moving. There’s always a new project to tackle – whether it’s water management, planting, crop rotation, farm expansion or something else entirely, drones can support project delivery.

  • The photo, video and sensor information provided by drones gives farmers a comprehensive view of their land. That’s perfect for constructing new buildings, optimising crop layout and staying on top of maintenance requirements.

  • Automation. Finally, drones are the ideal tool for automating agricultural processes. Modern drones can be programmed to perform automatic flights for the purposes of spraying, spreading, surveying, mapping and more.

Drone flying with raised landing gears over farm

 

The Benefits of Agricultural Drones

Drone companies are always searching for new ways to put their technology to work. Each year, drones get smarter, faster and more efficient, allowing them to deliver key benefits to the agriculture industry:

  • Improved crop health. Drones are the ultimate tool for improving crop health. They simplify the process of spraying and treating crops, and make it easy to monitor health. This can dramatically improve crop health, increasing productivity and yield.

  • Pesticide and fertiliser distribution. The software powering spraying drones allows for incredibly accurate distribution of pesticide, herbicide, fertiliser and other treatments. This reduces the amount of material required for spraying, minimises costs and ensures even coverage.

  • Greater safety. Farm workers are at risk from dangerous from wildlife, heavy machinery and exposure to the elements. Using drones reduces many of the risks of agriculture work.

  • Lower environmental impact. Agriculture has a significant impact on the surrounding environment. Land clearing, water management and crop spraying can all affect plants and wildlife in a major way.

  • Using drones minimises this impact by increasing accuracy when treating crops. Reducing runoff and overspray can save native flora and protect wildlife from harmful chemicals. Additionally, avoiding the need for heavy machinery reduces soil compaction, which is thought to decrease yields by as much as 50%.

  • Time savings. Drones are quick to deploy and can cover huge areas in short periods of time. This offers incredible time savings compared to traditional farm equipment.

  • Modern drones are capable of flying hundreds of kilometres for surveying purposes, and spraying platforms can cover up to 40 acres per hour. Plus, with the ability to automate certain flights, drone missions are one of the most efficient ways to get work done.

  • Reduced expenses. Finally, these benefits add up to make agricultural drones highly cost-effective. The time and materials saved by drones is substantial, and the increase in crop health, yield and productivity results in greater profits.

 
man flying drone over field at sunset

 

The Future of Drones in Agriculture

We’re only scratching the surface of how drones can be used in the agricultural sector.

As the technology advances, we expect to see large-scale automation of tasks like spraying, spreading, planting and crop monitoring. This will likely be done using fleets of interconnected drones that can automatically perform flights, switch batteries, recharge and provide the data farmers need.

Ultimately, this will improve yields, reduce costs and allow agricultural operations to achieve more.

 

Explore the Future with Drone Spraying With Toll Uncrewed Systems

Agriculture drones have the potential to change the way Australia’s farms work. Powerful data collection, automation and spraying capabilities will unlock new efficiencies and boost productivity across the country. 

If you’re ready to find out how drones can improve your farming operation, get in touch with us.

Toll Uncrewed Systems is a drone service provider that offers an extensive range of surveying, mapping and crop spraying services to the agriculture industry. With experienced pilots and state-of-the-art equipment, we can make short work of any spraying operation.

Contact us online to find out more, or give us a call for a quote on our drone crop spraying services!


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