The use of drones for farming purposes is growing exponentially as farmers adopt new technologies to increase efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. According to a recent report by Allied Market Research, the agricultural drone market is expected to reach $589 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 22.4%.
Drones are revolutionising the way farmers monitor and manage their crops and livestock. With their high-tech cameras, sensors, and GPS systems, drones provide farmers with a bird’s eye view of their fields and pastures, giving them a better understanding of their crops’ health, farmland security and their animals’ behaviour. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common uses of drones in farming and discuss their benefits.
Drones In Farming – Use Cases
1. Crop Surveying and Monitoring:
Drones are used for crop surveying and monitoring to help farmers collect data on their crops and identify any potential issues with crop health, such as disease outbreaks, water stress, and nutrient deficiencies. This data can then be used to make more informed decisions about planting and harvest dates, crop management strategies, and resource allocation. Drones equipped with multispectral cameras are able to capture high-resolution images of crops that reveal a wealth of information about the health and productivity of a field. By analysing these images, farmers can get a more accurate picture of the condition of their crops and take action to address any issues that arise.
2. Irrigation Optimisation
Drones equipped with multispectral sensors can be used to monitor soil moisture levels, allowing farmers to optimise irrigation practices and conserve water. In addition, drones can provide farmers with detailed maps of their fields, showing areas of high and low soil moisture, which can be used to optimise irrigation practices and reduce water waste.
3. Livestock Monitoring
Another use case for drones in agriculture is livestock monitoring. Farmers are using drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras to track their herds’ movement and behaviour and monitor their animals’ health and well-being. This information can help farmers to identify any issues with the health of their animals, such as lameness or infection, more quickly and effectively. In addition, drones can survey large pastures, helping farmers rapidly and promptly identify missing animals or track their movements whenever needed.
4. Drones For Crop Spraying
Crop spraying is one of the most critical tasks in farming, as it helps farmers to protect their crops from pests, diseases, and other environmental factors. The use of drones for crop spraying has greatly improved the way this task is performed, providing farmers with a faster, more efficient, and more precise method of applying pesticides and other treatments.
Drones can cover large areas of land in a short amount of time, reducing the amount of time and effort required to treat crops. This is particularly important for crops grown on large farms, where it can take days or weeks to treat an entire field using traditional methods. In addition, drones can reach areas that are difficult to access by ground, such as steep slopes or dense forests, providing farmers with a more comprehensive and efficient method of treating their crops.
Drones can be equipped with specialised spray nozzles that allow for the precise application of pesticides and other treatments. This helps to reduce the amount of chemical waste, as well as to improve the effectiveness of treatments. In addition, drones can fly at low altitudes, providing a more accurate application of treatments and helping to reduce the risk of drift or loss of product.
Using drones for crop spraying has many benefits, including improved speed, efficiency, precision, and cost savings. By providing farmers with a faster, more efficient, and more accurate method of applying pesticides and other treatments, drones are helping improve agricultural operations’ productivity and sustainability.
5. Crop Insurance
Drones are increasingly being used for crop insurance purposes, offering a more accurate and cost-effective method of assessing crop conditions and losses.
Drones can provide farmers and insurance companies with detailed images and data on the condition of crops. This information can be used to assess crops’ health and identify potential problems, such as disease, pests, or damage caused by natural disasters. In addition, drones can provide farmers and insurance companies with detailed maps of fields, which can be used to identify areas of damage and assess the extent of losses.
By providing farmers and insurance companies with more accurate and timely information on crop conditions and losses, drones are helping to improve the efficiency and fairness of the claims processing process. Whether used on large or small farms, drones are an effective solution for crop insurance and are poised to play an increasingly important role in the future of agriculture.
6. Farm Security
Theft of agricultural machinery, crops, pesticides, fertilisers and even livestock is a massive problem worldwide.
Drones can be used for farm security in several ways, providing farmers with a high-tech solution to help protect their equipment, crops, and livestock.
Drones can monitor large farm properties, helping farmers keep an eye on their land and identify any potential security threats. By flying over their fields and pastures, drones can capture images and videos that can be used to identify any suspicious activity, such as theft or vandalism. In addition, drones can be equipped with night-vision cameras and thermal imaging sensors, which can monitor farms at night and in low-light conditions.
Many Drone solutions can be programmed to detect intruders and alert farmers or security personnel in real-time.
DIB solutions are systems that integrate a drone and its associated equipment, such as sensors and cameras, into a single, self-contained unit. These systems are designed for specific applications and are typically used for tasks that require autonomous flight, such as aerial inspection, surveillance, and data collection.
These solutions are perfect for farmers because once they are set up, they more or less operate autonomously.
Overall, drones are an effective and cost-efficient solution for farm security, providing farmers with a high-tech solution to help protect their land, crops, and livestock. Whether used for surveillance, intrusion detection, livestock monitoring, or crop protection, drones can be a valuable tool for farmers that can help to improve the security and sustainability of their operations.
Benefits of Using Drones For Farming
Overall, drones have many benefits in agriculture, including improved crop and livestock management, increased productivity and efficiency, and reduced costs and environmental impact. By providing farmers with a bird’s eye view of their fields and pastures, drones help them make more informed decisions about crop and livestock management, leading to higher yields and better quality crops. Drones can help farmers to monitor the health of their crops and animals more closely, which can help to prevent disease outbreaks and other issues that can negatively impact productivity and profitability. In short, using drones in agriculture is a valuable tool for farmers that can help improve the sustainability and efficiency of their operations.
What Types Of Drones Are Used In Farming?
A wide range of drones is used in agriculture, each with unique capabilities and features. Some of the most common types of drones used in agriculture include:
Fixed-wing drones: Fixed-wing drones are used for large-scale aerial mapping and collecting data over large areas. They have a longer flight time than rotary-wing drones and are ideal for covering large areas efficiently.
Popular fixed wing drones includes:
- eBee x
- eBee Ag
- Autel Robotics Dragonfish
- Trinity F90+
Rotary-wing drones: Rotary-wing drones, also known as multirotor drones, are used for more precise tasks, such as crop inspection and plant counting. They are more manoeuvrable than fixed-wing drones and are the most popular type of drones for consumer and commercial applications.
DJI are the leaders leaders in rotary-wing drones, some of their most popular drones for farming are the following:
- DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral
- DJI Phantom 4 RTK
- DJI Matrice 300 RTK
Hybrid drones: Hybrid drones also known as VTOL drones combine the capabilities of fixed-wing and rotary-wing drones and are used for various tasks, including mapping and monitoring.
Three popular VTOL drones are:
- WingtraOne GEN II
- Atmos Marlyn
- Delta Quad Pro
Agricultural spray drones: Agricultural spray drones are explicitly designed for crop spraying and are equipped with precision spray systems. These drones can cover large areas efficiently and accurately, reducing the need for manual labour and increasing efficiency.
The DJI Agras is one of the most popular range of crop spraying drones, there are three versions, the T40, T30 and T10, the number specifies the volume of liquid in litres each drone can carry.
In conclusion, drones have become an increasingly important tool in the world of farming. With their ability to cover large areas efficiently, collect high-quality data, and perform tasks more accurately and safely than manual methods, drones are helping farmers to optimise their operations, improve the efficiency of their practices, and increase their yields. From crop spraying and crop inspection to livestock monitoring and aerial mapping, drones are being used in various applications to help farmers make more informed decisions and improve the sustainability of their operations. As technology advances, the use of drones in agriculture will likely continue to grow and evolve, helping farmers stay ahead of the curve and take their operations to the next level.