The use of drones in the agriculture industry is steadily growing as part of an effective approach to sustainable agricultural management that allows agronomists, agricultural engineers, and farmers to help streamline their operations, using robust data analytics to gain effective insights into their crops.
Products can be accurately traced from farm to fork using GPS locations for every point in the journey, rather than more traditional time and labor-intensive data collection.
WHY ADOPT AGRICULTURAL DRONES?
Drone technology has gotten most of the recognition in the industry because of its diversity and is considered the future for the agrarian community. The military initially used them. However, other sectors quickly embraced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) when they learned about their widespread applications.
HOW DOES DRONE TECHNOLOGY WORK?
Analyzing the area: This identifies the territory being tested. Therefore, the first step includes establishing a boundary, analyses of the area, and then finally, uploading the technical GPS information into the drone’s navigation system.
Using Autonomous Drones: Since Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are independent, they enter flight patterns into their already established system to collect required data.
Uploading the data: After capturing all the required data through sensors such as the multispectral sensor/RGB sensor, it is processed through numerous software for further analysis and interpretation.
Output: After collecting the data, they format it so that farmers can understand the data with no hassle, bringing them a step closer to precision farming. 3D mapping or Photogrammetry are popular methods to display extensive data collected.
BEST DRONE PRACTICES
Irrigation Monitoring: Drones, including hyperspectral, thermal, or multispectral sensors, recognize areas that are too dry or need improvement by the farmer. Drone survey helps improve water efficiency and disclose potential pooling/leaks in irrigation by providing Irrigation monitoring yields calculations of the vegetation index to help realize the health of crops and emitted heat/energy.
Crop Health Monitoring and Surveillance: It is crucial to track the health of the vegetation and spot bacterial/fungal plagues in the early stages. Agriculture drones can see which plants reflect different amounts of green light and Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) light. This data helps produce multispectral images to track crop health. Quick monitoring and discoveries of any defects can help save crops. In circumstances of crop failure, the farmer can also document the damages for accurate insurance claims.
Crop Damage Assessment: Agricultural drones fitted along with multispectral sensors and RGB sensors also detect field areas inflicted by weeds, infections, and pests. According to this data, the exact amounts of chemicals needed to fight these infestations are known, and this helps diminish the costs inflicted by the farmer.
Field Soil Analysis: The drone survey allows farmers to obtain information about their land’s soil conditions. Multispectral sensors allow seizing data useful for seed planting patterns, thorough field soil analysis, irrigation, and nitrogen-level management. Precise Photogrammetry/ 3D mapping permits farmers to analyze their soil conditions thoroughly.
Planting: Drone startups in India have invented drone-planting systems that allow drones to shoot pods, their seeds, and crucial nutrients into the soil. This technology doesn’t only reduce costs by almost 85% but also increases consistency and efficiency.
Agricultural spraying: Through drone crop spraying, human contact with such harmful chemicals is limited. Agri-drones can carry out this task much quicker than vehicles/airplanes. Drones with RGB sensors and multispectral sensors can precisely identify and treat problematic areas. Professionals say that aerial spraying is five times faster with drones when compared to other methods.
Livestock tracking: The drone survey allows the farmers not to keep track of their crops only but also to monitor the movements of their cattle. Thermal sensor technology helps find lost animals and detect an injury or sickness. Drones can carry out this function favorably, and this adds comprehensively to the production of vegetation.
BENEFITS OF DRONE TECHNOLOGY
As innovators introduce new technologies, their commercial uses increase day by day. The government has been easing restrictions for drone usage and is supporting startups to come up with novel ideas. As drone surveys become more common, they also become more cost-effective. In agriculture, they have a plethora of advantages. Some are as follows:
Enhanced Production – The farmer can improve production capabilities through comprehensive irrigation planning, adequate monitoring of crop health, increased knowledge about soil health, and adaptation to environmental changes.
Effective and Adaptive Techniques – Drone usage results in regular updates to farmers about their crops and helps develop strengthened farming techniques. They can adapt to weather conditions and allocate resources without any wastage.
Greater safety of farmers – It is safer and more convenient for farmers to use drones to spray pesticides in terrains challenging to reach, infected areas, taller crops, and power lines. It also helps farmers prevent spraying the crops, which leads to less pollution and chemicals in the soil.
10x faster data for quick decision-making – Drone surveys back farmers with accurate data processing that encourages them to make quick and mindful decisions without second-guessing, allowing farmers to save the time invested in crop scouting. Various sensors of the drone enable capturing and analyzing data from the entire field. The data can focus on problematic areas such as infected crops/unhealthy crops, different colored crops, moisture levels, etc. The drone can be fixed with several sensors for other crops, allowing a more accurate and diverse crop management system.
Less wastage of resources – Agri-drones enables optimum usage of all resources such as fertilizer, water, seeds, and pesticides.
99% Accuracy rate – The drone survey helps farmers calculate the precise land size, segment the various crops, and indulge in soil mapping.
Useful for Insurance claims – Farmers use the data captured through drones to claim crop insurance in case of any damages. They even calculate risks/losses associated with the land while being insured.
Evidence for insurance companies – Agricultural insurance sectors use Agri-drones for efficient and trustworthy data. They capture the damages that have occurred for the right estimation of monetary payback to the farmers.
As mentioned before, agricultural drone technology is undoubtedly the future of the Indian agrarian community. It can transform traditional farming methods in uncountable ways. Even though this technology is more complex to be familiar with, it will yield its results in no time once learned.
Farmers must understand the entire process. Determination of goals, creating an equilibrium in the drone and software utilized, and being familiar with the principles of using such technology will stand as a challenge. The farmers will inevitably need comprehensive training or partnerships with third-party experts in the drone industry for the acquisition of reliable data. Drones have changed the course of obtaining data in almost every type of industry, and will only deem to become bigger and better in the coming years.