With a growing global population demanding more food and climate change threatening current crop yields, farmers need to find ways to get more out of their farms. One way they’ve been doing this is by deploying agricultural drones.
Agricultural drones enable precision farming, which increases yield while also lowering farming costs.
Most agricultural drones are used to survey and monitor crops and soil, but there are also specialized models that can spray and fertilize crops.
Agricultural drone technology is growing rapidly. This has had two big advantages.
One, the software and hardware are better than ever. Two, costs have come down.
If you’ve been on the fence about buying an agricultural drone, there’s no better time than now. They are still more expensive than consumer camera drones, but their benefits are plenty.
Here are 5 major reasons why you should invest in agricultural drones.
1. Agriculture Drones Reduces Production Costs
Costs are always at the top of farmers’ minds, so I’m going to start with the biggest benefit of using ag drones –lower production costs.
Tasks like field scouting and crop assessment require hundreds of man-hours. A drone can handle these tasks with few to no errors, increased efficiency and in less time.
A single drone can handle the work of two dozen workers, saving you costs. If you use vehicles to survey the farm, a drone also saves you the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance.
2. Agriculture Drones Help With Labor Shortages
Most farms in the United States are struggling with an acute labor shortage.
While drones can’t possibly cover all the work that would have been done by missing workers, they go a long way in mitigating losses caused by lack of workers.
3. Real Time Data Makes all the Difference
Traditionally, farmers have relied on satellite imagery or aircraft to survey their farms for crop health monitoring, yield assessment and general field surveying.
But these methods take time before you can get helpful data you can turn into action.
With a powerful agricultural drone, you get the data right there and then. Unlike earlier drones, you don’t even need a complicated ground station to transmit the data to.
With just a tablet, you can receive high res images and analyze them immediately.
This gets important data and insights into your hands faster. You can then deploy the right measures in less time, which helps maintain high yields.
Live data is especially critical for time-sensitive problems like pests and diseases.
4. End-to-End Systems Make Workflow Easy
For years, the complexity and costs of using agricultural drones were major issues that held farmers back from making the investment.
The main problem was that the farmers had to invest in many individual systems: a drone to take the images, software for flight planning, software for mapping and yet more software for analyzing drone images.
Such a fragmented system is expensive and, to be honest, frustrating to use.
Nowadays, however, companies are creating end-to-end systems that combine everything you need, both hardware and software, into one convenient package.
Take DJI’s Agricultural Solution Package for instance. It’s designed to provide precision crop spraying.
The package includes a drone, flight controller, DJI’s Agriculture Management Platform, an agricultural app and everything else you need to create a complete spraying system.
They also have a Smarter Farming Package that consists of a DJI Matrice 100 drone, a visual and multispectral sensor and software to collect and analyze images.
These packages make the workflow easier and faster. Instead of trying to make different systems work together, you have a complete solution that works seamlessly.
5. Agricultural Drones Have Become Cheaper
A few years ago, you had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a decent agricultural drone and the required software.
These days, you can get started for around $2,000.
The best part is that these Agriculture Drones are more powerful than what was available 5 years ago.
Combine them with all the new programs and software available, some for free, and you can create a complete system without breaking the bank.
If you are not sure whether agricultural drones are for you, you can start small with minimal risk. Depending on your needs, you can grow slowly adding more hardware and software as you see fit.