How are Drones used in Agriculture? Advantages and Benefits

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Today, Photography and Cinema professionals are no longer the only ones to apply new technologies to their activity: a farmer can also become a drone pilot, for many diverse uses.

Equipped with drones, farmers can indeed save considerable time and optimize the output of their land plots thanks to these devices which allow a precise aerial view and the collection of numerous data. If you thought you knew everything about drones, you will be surprised to know the importance of their use in agronomy and to discover how they have become decision-making tools in the agricultural sector.

A Relevant Tool for Precision Farming

Agricultural drones have the particularity not only of filming with the objective of carrying out a visual inspection of the land in order to identify weeds or pest damage, but also of being equipped with various sensors which facilitate the analysis of a wide array of data: nitrogen levels, chlorophyll levels, biomass, moister levels, water stress, etc.

In addition, flying drone with a high resolution camera at low altitude makes it possible to capture more relevant aerial views than with a satellite image, whether in viticulture, arboriculture, horticulture or in arable crops.

With all this information and the recommendations on the necessary inputs, farmers can precisely adjust the level of fertilizer or other pesticides to be applied, and the areas concerned. For farmers who regularly use drones, quantity of liquids applied to treat crops decrease significantly, thus facilitating sustainable and well-planned agriculture. Agricultural yields are also improved, which allows a fairly rapid return on investment, despite an acquisition cost reaching several thousand dollars for the most sophisticated drones.

Spraying Drones

Although its use is still not widespread, in particular because of a strict legislative framework, spraying drones are starting to attract more and more farmers around the world. Indeed, this technique has several advantages for the farming community:

Thanks to spraying drones, It becomes easier to treat specific areas and to optimize the quantity of phytosanitary products used by spreading them only where necessary.

Drones can get to places that can not by reached by conventional agricultural machinery, especially in case of high humidity, presence of trees, etc.

Some drones can be configured to allow automatic overflight and dispersion of fertilizers and herbicides and to spread regularly while managing the spraying distance.

It is possible to adapt the spray nozzles according to the type of products to be spread over agricultural lands and the type of crop (rapeseed, wheat, barley or any other cereal plant, vegetables, etc.)

Agricultural Drones to Assist Breeders

In addition to optimizing agriculture operations, and monitoring crop growth, drones are also useful in the context of animal husbandry. These small devices can indeed fly low over herds and even bring them back to the farm.

They are also used to keep watch over livestock herds (cattle, sheep, pigs, etc.) to make sure they have enough water and feed and that none have escaped from their pen. In addition, during calving periods, farmers can keep an eye on their heifers and intervene as quickly as possible if necessary. Some farmers have even noted a decrease in the number of foxes injuring or chasing poultry thanks to the use of a drone.

Professional Drone Services for Farmers

The question then arises of how much agricultural drones cost. In addition to the cost of an agricultural drone, we must add that of software, the necessary training as well as the essential piloting license. Enough to raise the bill to more than $30,000. This explains why drones are mainly used by specialized companies, agricultural organizations or cooperatives.

In terms of services, prices are more accessible, starting from $5 per acre. A typical flyover can cover 100 acres in 15 minutes, capturing around 300 images for a price of $500

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