Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
There are a quite spectacular range of UAV/Drone applications in conventional agronomy and the use of drones is proving extremely cost efficient and ensuring more prompt reaction to prevailing conditions on both micro and macro farming operations. Many have suggested that the deployment of drones in agriculture will be the leading growth component of flight operations – time will tell, in the interim, the need is to perfect flight operations and the optimal applications that can be entertained. In many respects the sky is quite literally the “limit” in terms of farming:
- Soil assessment and mapping of farming areas
- Border threat identification issues (such as invasive plants bordering the farming region)
- Biomass of the region, plant condition etc.
- Moisture levels and optimal water scheme fault line assessment
- Stock control and theft prevention (critical analysis of the region, boundary patrols, threat assessment etc).
- Property productivity levels
In Japan, the use of drones in agriculture has been in force for over two decades and most of the farming is undertaken in steep, hilly conditions where conventional “tractor type” operations are impractical. The use of drone technology has afforded farmers access to new areas in addition to assisting with assessment of insect or disease infestation, low moisture levels and general farm conditions. Drone applications have included highly cost effective deployment of insecticides, fertilisers in addition to sampling for nitrogen levels.
The use of infra-red photography and videography helps identify plant health by establishing the efficiency of photosynthesis in crops.
Whilst the use of Drones in agriculture is an ongoing process in day to day management, the aircraft are ideal of initial property mapping studies, highlighting natural drainage lines (assisting in design and positioning of dams etc).
The key, of course, is not in the flying alone but in the potential for advanced analytics from data captured during flight operations.
The applications are limitless and new and improved technologies will ensure even broader application into the future.