How Drones Help Farmers Be More Competitive

Farming has gone a long way from using hand tools and animals to modern day machines, such as tractors, harvesters, weeders, and milking machines, among others. Nowadays, farmers especially on large farms use technology to help increase their food and crop production and yields.

As Wikipedia says, β€œToday much of the farm equipment used on both small and large farms is automated (e.g. using satellite guided farming).”

But farming technology also goes beyond increasing food and crop production. Improved farming technology leads to sustainable agriculture and farming practices such as conservation, preservation, and moderation. For example, agricultural biotechnology has helped farmers engineer plants to enable these to survive the worst weather conditions like a drought.

Now comes drone technology and the benefits it provides for farmers. β€œDrones can be used to optimize a farm based on a large range of image data about the condition of crops, fields and livestock as well as applying pesticides. […]Drones are an affordable investment when compared to most farm equipment. They can pay for themselves and start saving money within a single growing season.”

areal photography of green field
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

This research on drone usage in agriculture finds that there is a lot farmers can gain from using drone technology in their practice. An excerpt from its abstract states:

β€œA lot is happening lately on the subject of drone applications in agriculture and precision farming. From the ability to image, recreate and analyze individual leaves on a corn plant from 120 meters height, to getting information on the water-holding capacity of soils to variable-rate water applications, agricultural practices are changing due to drones delivering agricultural intelligence for both farmers and agricultural consultants.”

An article by KnowableMagazine says that β€œWhen outfitted with cameras and other data-gathering devices, drones provide an β€œeye in the sky,” scouting for plant pests or dry spots in need of more attention.”

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Would you like a more personal take on how drones make farmers more competitive today? Read this story of a farmer who is the first in the US to use drones for farming. In his own words, he writes:

β€œI took precision agriculture to new heights in 2006 by becoming the first farmer in the US to own and use a UAS. Just like my early precision ag journey, there were many rocky roads to traverse and lessons to be learned. […]With the advancements of UAS and other agriculture technology we have surpassed precision agriculture and are now in the early stages of surgical agriculture. What I mean is, through advancements in technology we can do an even better job of managing our soils, crops, and other resources to more precise levels.”

Drone usage in agriculture has made its mark, but it offers more promise in the future. β€œWith technology constantly improving, imaging of the crops will need to improve as well. With the data that drones record from the crops the farmers are able to analyze their crops and make educated decisions on how to proceed given the accurate crop information.” Read more here.


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