The excitement is high for using UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicle) or ( an aircraft piloted by remote control or onboard computers) in the Agriculture sector. Drone Farming – New Time Saving Technology
How does the farmer benefit from the Drone?
Lets start with the “Internet of Things” where there is a network of physical objects. Outfitted with electronics, this enables data collection and aggregation comes into play with the development of sensors and farm management software. For example: It is used to scan the grounds to see where cows have urinated and apply fertilizer to only the spots that need it. This can cut fertilizer use up to 30%. A huge saving for farmers. Moisture sensors in the soil determine the best times to water the plants.
Another example is for Beekeeping, this monitoring technology could be become essential and is effective in agriculture service by monitoring the honeybees’s colony health via wireless temperature , humidity and CO2 to improve their productivity . Honeybees are of significant economic value to agriculture pollinating a variety of crops. This data can warn the farmer from any threats regarding the survival of the entire hive.
For the first time farmers are using UAV’s to have an overall view of their fields and livestock. Taking photos of their fields and finding lost cattle are just another advantage to secure high levels of security and from a safety point of view for farm worker. Thermal sensing has recently been added and new add on’s with more to come, has made the Drone very sought after for future farming. The greatest advantage is the time that can be saved in scouting fields or animals without driving around or footwork.
Getting started and Costs:
The Drone: There are mainly two varieties, the fixed wing and the multi-rotor drone. Fixed wing can cover more area in less time and fly faster with a longer battery life while multi-rotor drones are cheaper and can be easier to maneuver.
The actual Drone for professional use can estimate from R 72 00 to R 135 000, but be aware that most drones have add on’s that is not needed in agriculture.
The Sensors: Sensors can be paired with drones to provide additional info. They estimate from R 36 000 to R 180 000 depending upon the number of sensors needed. However the information you get from the camera that comes with the drone can be just as useful.
Software subscriptions: There are third party software subscriptions that can be purchased which uses images captured from the camera and create maps that can provide crop information. These cost around R 600 to R 5000. It is wise to find out who and what subscriber is available in your area and get updated pricing. There are free trial periods available, so a producer can identify which software works best for them.
Certification: Some countries requires certification for flying drones weighing between 1.2 kg to 121 kg for commercial or training purposes. This includes farmers, so make sure you are aware of the size drone you buy and comply according to your country specifications.
In a Nut Shell:
For the future, Sky Farming is the way to go! As farms and crop areas become larger due to the demand, their management must be streamlined to become more efficient and more productive. It seems that Precision Farming and Technology is growing into high demand where speed and precision are vital. From multi spectral images to infrared sensors, and analysis, Sky Farming with Drones is now a reality and any farmers dream, saving them time and money.
Drone Farming – New Time Saving Technology