Introduction- The technology industry is one of fastest growing industries in the world and so there is a pressing need for innovation. We are experiencing very exciting times, the staggering amount of new technology being invented every day also increases the demand, and it makes a lot of businesses obsolete. So there is a growing demand for innovation and the need to stay ahead of the game.
Table of content.
- Brief history of Drone use.
- Environmental Sustainability.
- Social Sustainability.
- Economic Sustainability.
- Applications of drones in Agriculture.
- Pros and Cons of drones in Agriculture.
Applications of drones in agriculture- Drones are quickly moving from the battlefield to the farmer’s field on the verge of helping growers oversee millions of acres throughout rural America and saving them big money in the process. Just like jeeps, GPS and other technologies that originated in the military, drone technology has many potential civilian applications especially in the agriculture industry. Although farmers could buy their own drones, most are expected to hire companies that specialize in this niche market. A major reason to hire someone instead of buying is the extensive training needed to operate the costly piece of machinery and the complexity of flying it. Some people have concerns about their use, but the technology is beneficial and can ultimately save farmers time and money. Drone applications in agriculture include;
Identify pests, disease & weeds.
Collect tissue tests for fertility & disease issues.
Collect soil samples for soil, fertility, pH & pest issues.
Dig up plants; inspect root structure for signs of compaction, depth, disease & pests.
Measure erosion channel width & depth.
Note machine issues & other visual defects.
Count plants & determine population / spacing issues.
Conduct exploratory excavation to determine drainage tile, depth, size & location.
Precision farming- Farmers can also use drones to tailor their use of pesticides, herbicides, fertiliser and other applications based on how much is needed at a specific point in a field in a process known as precision agriculture reducing the amount of runoff that could flow into nearby rivers and streams.
Surveys- UAV’s will a big part in gathering the raw information that will be used to solve the big data issue. Drones have computers similar to those used in smartphones and can make flights of about 10 to 15 minutes. While the standard pictures and video are very helpful, researchers are looking to use imagery in other wavelengths, such as near-infrared, to identify areas of crop stress. Infrared Lighting gives farmers 3 types of detailed views concerning; Irrigation problems, Soil variation and even pest & fungal infestations that are invisible at eye level “Crop health imaging”. From the ability to image, recreate, and analyze individual leaves on a soybean plant from 400 feet, to getting information on the water-holding capacity of soil, to variable-rate water applications. They take "multi spectral Images" with hundreds of acres covered in a single shot, it transforms the shot into one large "Ortho-mosaic" image which part of the “Integrated GIS mapping” process. Apply algorithms like normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) and you create a reflectance map of your crop field which highlights which areas of your crops need more attention. Bad weather conditions make it difficult to make proper surveillance, the solution lies with UAV use. The question is whether flocks of UAVs are a better alternative to a manned double engine? Much of the data that growers need to improve their decision-making can be made available with the right spectroscopy tools. The human eye can only detect a fraction of the information about an object that can be measured remotely. With properly calibrated imaging tools the difference between healthy and stressed plants can clearly be differentiated in bands beyond the visible spectrum. Today, satellites, manned planes and walking the field are the main ways farmers monitor their crops. But these methods often can be incomplete or time consuming, and when data is collected it can take a long time to process and analyze. As a result, it can be difficult or impossible for the farmer to react to a problem like a disease outbreak before it is too late or the costs to treat it have soared. Researchers say interest is growing in the use of drones in agriculture and that the unmanned aerial vehicles can give farmers a bird’s eye view of their fields.
Possible future Applications*-*Commercial drone use projections for the year 2015 don’t look very optimistic for a few reasons. Commodity prices are half of they used to be in 2012 farmers won’t pay for unproven technology. While much of the attention regarding drones has focused recently on Amazon and UPS seeking to use them to deliver packages, much of the future for drones is expected to come on the farm. That’s because agriculture operations span large distances and are mostly free of privacy and safety concerns that have dogged the use of these aerial high-fliers in more heavily populated areas.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the trade group that represents producers and users of drones and other robotic equipment, predicts that 80% of the commercial market for drones will eventually be for agricultural uses.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forbids farmers from using the information gathered from the infrared camera. Regulation does not permit drones to be used for profit making purposes only technically for hobbyists. FAA is in the process of working towards establishing a “small unmanned aircraft (SUA) rule” that will allow for wider commercial drone use. In December the FAA granted commercial exemptions to several companies, which use drones for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. For now, farmers can only use a fraction of the potential of aerial drones. Farmers pay for the drone service in the hopes that one day they will be able to put it to use legally. The government is preventing them from using drone which they could learn more about their farm from.
Creation of rain- It’s called cloud-seeding. In California, it may become a viable option to combat long-term water shortages. The DRI is currently HYPERLINK "https://campus.usask.ca/owa/redir.aspx?SURL=NCosfCZoXnNBD7RiasaPsO-FiPpgX9IVR_giJieaE_6PW_ExXSCGgAdAB0AHAAOgAvAC8AdwB3AHcALgBmAGEAcwB0AGMAbwBlAHgAaQBzAHQALgBjAG8AbQAvADMAMAAzADIAMAA2ADEALwBjAG8AdQBsAGQALQBkAHIAbwBuAGUAcwAtAGgAZQBsAHAALQBtAGEAawBlAC0AYwBsAG8AdQBkAHMALQBnAGkAdgBlAC0AdQBzAC0AcgBhAGkAbgA.&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.fastcoexist.com%2f3032061%2fcould-drones-help-make-clouds-give-us-rain" \t "_blank" testing plans for a cloud-seeding drone program, with the goal of delivering the most effective dose of silver iodide to the clouds with the greatest precipitation potential, wherever they may be.
Cattle Herd Monitoring- Drones are a solid option for monitoring herds from overhead, tracking the quantity and activity level of animals on one’s property and they are especially helpful for night-time monitoring due to the human eye’s inability thus far to evolve to the point of seeing in the dark.
Brief History of Drone Technology