Drones have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. No longer used solely by military and government organizations, these commercial UAVs have carved out a spot for themselves in numerous other industries.
Among the most prominent of these industries is agriculture. Thanks to their relative low cost and wide range of uses, quadcopter drones are being applied as solutions to several age-old farming problems. A mainstay at large farming operations, the crafts are also becoming increasingly common on small family farms.
So what’s the link between quadcopters and farming? We explore the unique relationship between UAVs and agriculture in greater detail below.
Agriculture UAV Applications
The relationship between quadcopters and farming is relatively recent. New uses for drones on agricultural land are constantly being explored.
The current most common application is to monitor crops. Quadcopters provide an easy and low-cost way for farmers to monitor their land. Especially on large tracts of land, monitoring crops on a regular basis takes a huge amount of time.
Monitoring crops with drones allows farmers to pinpoint problems early on. With video recording technology, patterns in fields can be analyzed with computer software. The software is able to make sense of certain patterns that point to low nitrogen levels, disease, and irrigation problems.
Spotting these problems early makes stopping them far easier. Farmers can apply solutions near instantly to stop a minor problem from becoming major. According to Aerial Technology International, agricultural UAVs could account for 80% of all mon-military drones in the near future.
Yet agriculture UAVs aren’t just limited to crops. New research is focused on developing uses for animals as well. Namely, to keep dangerous animals away from valuable crops and livestock on farmland.
The technology is currently being developed in Tanzania. Farmers in the country lose huge amounts of crops each year to elephants. In order to stop farmers from subsequently killing these elephants, drones outfitted with special devices emit sounds that scare elephants away from farmland.
The technology has the potential to be used across the world to keep all types of large animals away from valuable farmland.
Benefits of Quadcopters for Farming
The benefits of using drones for farming are numerous. A few of the most important include:
- Cheap – Drones are remarkably affordable. Even family farmers can invest in a top-quality drone to use for agriculture.
- Easy to Use – The learning curve to pilot a drone is small, especially with the help of drone simulators and drone flight courses. Almost any farmer will be able to learn how to use one on their own.
- Increase Yield – Agriculture UAVs allow farmers to monitor their crops and stop minor problems from developing. This, in turn, improves the health of crops and increases overall crop yield.
- Save Time – Monitoring crops is time intensive. In fact, many small farmers aren’t able to do so in any truly effective way. Drones are here to change that.
- Create Data Sets – Agriculture UAVs allow farmers to create large data sets and then export these to a variety of applications. An example is monitoring crop data from year to year on an annual basis.
Top 3 Drones for Agriculture
As a farmer, you have two main options when it comes to buying a quadcopter drone for agriculture.
The first is to buy a standard non-military drone and equip it for agricultural use. The second is to buy a drone specifically outfitted for farming applications.
We tend to recommend the second course of action. The first tends to be much more expensive and less efficient. With so many great agriculture UAVs already on the market, there’s no reason to buy one that’s not made for farming from the get-go.
The three best agriculture quadcopters currently on the market include:
The customizable AgDrone from HoneyComb is considered the most advanced agricultural drone in the world.
Incredibly durable construction, autonomous flight mode, and long battery life are highlights of the drone. It can operate in demanding conditions for much longer than your average quadcopter.
The drone is outfitted with special hardware and software for agriculture. It comes with dual HD cameras and sensors for thermal imaging, stereoscopic, and multispectral NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index).
Learn more about the HoneyComb AgDrone.
The durable Lancaster from PrecisionHawk is created with durability, efficiency, and versatility in mind.
Unlike the AgDrone, the Lancaster is designed, from start to finish, with the beginning user in mind. Yet it doesn’t sacrifice quality at all.
The drone is outfitted with LIDAR and Hyperspectral imaging. Other sensors allow for thermal, visual, and multispectral crop monitoring. Additional sensors and features can be added depending on your needs.
Another neat feature of the Lancaster is its “brain.” It includes an on-board computer that helps make in-flight decisions based on weather conditions during autonomous flight.
Learn more about the PrecisionHawk Lancaster.
AgEagle is something of an aerial tank. It’s one of the most rugged commercial drones, capable of flying in 20 mph winds.
The AgEagle is constructed from a mixture of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and poly carbonate. The goal is durability. AgEagle is a company with a deep history in the farming industry and knows that farm equipment needs to hold up to the rigors of heavy daily use.
The AgEagle agriculture UAV is outfitted with a GoPro camera (with a non-fisheye lens), easy-to-create autonomous flight plans, and a host of sensors. The drone makes it as easy as possible to map crop data.
Another thing we like about AgEagle is the company’s commitment to customer service. They stand 100% behind their products and this shows through in the level of support they provide each and every customer.
Learn more about AgEagle.
Specially-outfitted UAVs are changing the face of agriculture. These commercial farming quadcopters are an arm and a leg ahead of recreational drones. Their results speak for themselves.
Quadcopters make monitoring crops far easier. The implications of this emerging technology are wide reaching and won’t be wholly known until well into the future. It will be exciting to see the new ways agriculture UAVs are implemented in coming years.