The technology industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As producers strive to feed a continuously increasing global population, it’s no doubt that the agricultural sector poses a high demand for technological advancements. Drones are one of many current technological ideas being adopted to benefit today’s agricultural sector. The capability of drones to greatly improve efficiency in agriculture makes drones an attractive advancement in helping to ensure that agriculture will withstand a sustainable future. Although the concept of drones is not an entirely new idea, the ability of agricultural drones to allow for sustainability in terms of the environment, economy, and social aspect of society are factors that are backing the current excitement for drone use in the agriculture sector.
Drone applications in agriculture.
Farmers are looking for cheaper alternatives to manage their large plots of land. Government regulations prevent farmers; farmers have to work with companies that use drones for commercial use. Drones or Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs) can be used in the agricultural sector for the following purposes;
- Identification of pests, diseases and weeds.
- Collection of tissue samples tests for fertility & disease issues.
- Collection of soil samples to test for soil, fertility, pH & pest issues.
- Digging up plants to inspect plant root structure for signs of compaction, depth, disease, pests.
- Measurements of erosion channel width & depth.
- Notification of machine issues & other visual defects.
- Counting plants to determine population & spacing issues.
- Conducting exploratory excavation to determine drainage tile, depth, size & location.
In bad weather conditions or low visibility areas with drone use things that can’t be seen with the naked eye such as; Crop health, soil water content, topography & field borders and pest& fungal infections become clearly visible. 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. It may also be used for routine inspections and things such as map making & taking measurements. Night time animal herd (monitoring). UAVs use complex computer chips similar to those used in smartphones which can upload thousands of gigabytes of data though Wi-Fi hotspots.
Farmers also can use drones to tailor their use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and Fungicide applications based on how much is needed at a specific point in a field in a process known as precision agriculture thus saving the grower money from unnecessarily overusing resources while at the same time reducing the amount of runoff that could flow into nearby rivers and streams. UAVs can be used to collect field samples such as soil and tissues samples. Irrigation and harvest management.
Brief History of Drone Technology