Agribusiness - drone technology

Drone technology has advanced quickly in recent years and has become more user-friendly and accessible. This coupled with the trend of agriculture becoming increasingly data-driven has meant that agriculture is seen to be one of the major industries incorporating agricultural drones in the short term future.

Whilst social media during the 2017 harvest has seen more farmers putting a drone up to take great time-lapse aerial footage of the countryside, back in the farm office the data captured from drones is being increasingly used for operational planning, analysis and precision agriculture.

Agricultural drones broadly provide three types of detailed views:

  1. Soil and crop monitoring – seeing a crop from the air can reveal patterns, allowing better monitoring of soil health, irrigation, targeted spraying and even pest problems which may not be so apparent at ground level.
  2. Mapping and surveying – drone images can capture aerial images, infra-red, heat maps etc. highlighting differences between crops in the same field or in a specific area which is difficult to appreciate whilst walking around it.
  3. Efficiencies – drones can survey a crop efficiently which encourages more regular monitoring – week, daily or even hourly!  Combining the images can easily show changes in the crop, helping better crop management and revealing any problem spots which could be looked at in further detail to maximise productivity.

The amount of data capable of being recorded whilst tractors autonomously drill fields, or when GPS-guided combines harvest crops is astonishing.  Having the ability to use data collected from the ground together with the drone footage from the air, sees drones becoming a valued operational tool with exciting future potential.

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