Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or Agriculture Drone Software have been used extensively in the commercial industry for the past many decades. The earliest commercial use of the ai drone technology may be traced back to the early 1980s, however, it is only in the past two decades that the practical applications of drones have expanded considerably. Owing to the advancement in technology, especially in futuristic technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and others, today drones are widely used across various industries; enabling faster, better, and more cost-effective operations of various industries.
Today, the total value of the drone technology used across all industries including commercial and public applications amounts to nearly $ 150 billion, which is expected to continue increasing in foreseeable future. Agriculture is one of the top industries among the various others where drones will continue to increase its application. Drones in agriculture can help in overcoming various persistent challenges while enabling better agriculture practices to address future challenges as well. Farming drones are seen as the next futuristic technology that will be crucial to feed the growing population, which is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, increasing the demand for food by over 70% for the same period. Moreover, drones in agriculture will also be crucial to fighting against the extreme weather events which are constantly wreaking havoc for the farmers and creating food security situations across many regions in the world.
It is imperative for farmers across the world to embrace the drones in agriculture and exploit its potential to improve their agricultural practices, as well as, to increase food production. Here in this blog, we will be looking at everything you want to know about farming drones and how they are changing the face of the agricultural industry for the good.
Folio3 is Your custom Farming Agriculture Drones and Applications Partner
Folio3 is one of the top tech companies manufacturing high-end farming drones for the agricultural sector. The company has been assisting farmers across various countries with its AI-backed drone technology to improve agricultural practices.
By unlocking the potential of aerial data using AI-powered drones, the company enable farmers to;
– Collect Aerial Data
Farmers can integrate various payloads on the drones including thermal, visual, LiDAR, or other sensors for complete monitoring and assessment of crops
– Data Analytics
The company offers custom-made AI algorithms that can be used to analyze and interpret the data collected from the drones, so farmers are able to get real-time results in form of interactive reports
– Delivering Action
The AI-powered drones by Folio3 can be programmed to performed tasks independently, thereby, significantly reducing the manual interventions required for farm management.
Drones in Agriculture and Farming Trend 2022
What are some Commercial Applications of Drone Technology in Agriculture and Farming?
There are plenty of drones applications in the agriculture industry. In fact, drones and agriculture are seen as the perfect match of how technology can revolutionize the traditional industries, making them better, more efficient, and productive for the collective benefit of humanity.
Below, we have come up with some widely used drones applications in the agriculture industry.
1) Terrain Mapping
Drones with their inherent capability to survey vast tracts of lands are perfect tools to perform terrain mapping. Today, companies like Folio3 are manufacturing AI drones that are programmable to perform various tasks including terrain mapping for better management of the agricultural industry.
Modern-day drones equipped with LiDAR and other sensors are used by farmers to map the terrain across vast swaths of lands as a reconnaissance tool for land preparations. The advanced computer vision capabilities of drones enable them to accurately map the terrain and offer real-time feedback to farmers for efficient planning and management of fields.
2) Solar Panel Inspection
Farms across the world are switching to renewable energy sources like solar panels to meet their energy needs. By installing large solar farms for agricultural practices, farmers not only ensure a consistent power supply but also significantly reduce the energy expenses.
AI-powered drones can be used to significantly reduce the time and cost required for inspection of solar panels . The farming drones can be used for regular monitoring of the solar panels and assess any potential defects in the grid before it jeopardizes the entire system.
Companies like Folio3 have been designing advanced drones with various imaging payloads including thermal and infrared imaging sensors to help farmers easily supervise solar panel maintenance and identifies any potential defects like diode failure or shattered panels quickly.
3) Livestock Monitoring
The drones in the agriculture industry are also widely used by farmers for effective livestock management. AI-backed programmable drones are perfect tools to automate the monitoring of livestock at the fraction of the cost.
These drones can be used to keep track of the livestock, as well as, to identify any injured or missing livestock. It can also be used to identify pastures across vast swaths of lands and can be pre-programmed to continue tracking the livestock across the pasture.
4) Soil and Field Analysis
Drones are great tools to access insightful data for the quality of the soil at the beginning or end of a crop cycle. AI drones equipped with LiDAR can be used to create 3D maps of the soil to be able to understand any issues with the quality of the soil including the nutrients or any dead zone.
All of this information can be pretty useful to determine the most effective planting patterns, as well as, improved crop management. Drones can also be sued to identify and monitor water resources more effectively across the fields.
5) Seed Planting
Seed planting using drone technology is a relatively new technology as compared to other drones applications in agriculture. However, startup companies have been testing the technology for faster and more effective seed plantations.
Some farming drone manufacturing companies are also testing the payload efficiency of drones in form of tree seeds, fertilizers, water, and herbicide to assess the cost-effectiveness of the technology. Once it gets passed the testing phase, drones would further strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the agriculture industry by making it much easier to plant seeds and deliver other required elements to the soil.
6) Crop Spraying
Another area of drones application in the agriculture industry includes crop spraying. Traditionally, farmers are required to spray the entire fields manually with vehicles or at times some farmers also used airplanes for the purpose. However, both of these methods are either too slow or too expensive for the liking of modern-day farming.
Today, smart drones approved by FAA can take huge reservoirs of fertilizers or pesticides as payload for efficient spraying across the field. In fact, AI drones can be programmed for spot spraying as well, making it much safer and cost-effective for farmers to manage the crop yields and stop pest infestation in crops.
7) Crop Mapping and Surveying
Another vital drone application in the agriculture sector is the use of the technology in monitoring of crops across vast swaths of fields. Traditionally this has to be performed by farmers manually which takes forever and is highly inefficient. More recently tech companies have been using satellite or airborne imagery to survey and map the crop fields, which again comes with high costs.
Lately, AI-powered drones have taken over the survey and mapping aspect of farming, making it possible for farmers to keep a close check on the crop efficiently in real-time.
8) Irrigation Monitoring
Another traditionally troublesome area for farmers has been monitoring and management of irrigation. With several miles long irrigation network, there’s always a possibility of issues arising.
Today, drones equipped with thermal imaging systems are effectively used to monitor the entire irrigation network efficiently and spot any issues in real-time. With access to real-time information through drones, farmers are in a better position to maximize the drainage and prepare contingency plans to cope with issues.
9) Health assessment:
Lastly, drones are effectively used to monitor crop health. Drones equipped with infrared and thermal sensors are widely used to get real-time imagery for analysis of crop health.
Companies like Folio3 offer customized crop health monitoring software that can be used to instantly assess the chlorophyll content, as well as, estimate soil fertility through crop imagery in the infrared and thermal region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Drones in Agriculture Market and Trends
Drones in agriculture are known to achieve precision agriculture, which is something that the scientific community is after in order to get prepared for the massive increase in the population in the coming decades.
The precision agriculture takes into account detailed observation and measurement at each and every step of crop farming and livestock data to keep farmers updated with the status of the crop and help them take precautionary measures to save crops from potential damage. The technique also enables farmers to greatly reduce the requirement of manual labor by bringing in a more organized and integrated farming approach, resulting in increased yields through more efficient and effective management of crop farming.
The rapid advancement of drone technology has also resulted in a significant decrease in the cost of drones in agriculture, which again improves the capacity of farmers to integrate the technology into their farming practices for higher yields and better management of crops.
According to stats, the total value of drones application in the agriculture market will increase up to 40% in the coming years, owing to a consistently growing population, unreliable weather patterns, and a massive demand for food in the market.
Some of the various drones application in agriculture industry includes;
– Crop monitoring
– Detecting weeds
– Managing livestock
– Crop health assessment and many more
Modern-day drones are integrated with AI technologies along with strong imagery sensors (Camera and infrared sensors) and GPS navigation systems that enable them to perform various agriculture-related tasks for better and efficient farming practices.
Drones Application in Farming & Agriculture – Advantages and Disadvantages
Just like all technologies, farming drones also comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Below we will be looking at some of the pros and cons of the technology:
– Efficient Agriculture Practice
Drones technology has proven to be the revolutionizing technology for the agricultural sector, automating the various labor-intensive processes and creating more efficient agricultural practices. All of this leads to better crop management, as well as, more yield to meet future needs.
– Prevents Infestation
By automating the crop spraying with real-time monitoring capabilities, drone technology in the application has greatly reduced the infestation rates and improved the yield estimation of crops.
– Moisture Monitoring
Moisture monitoring is important in agriculture to ensure the health of the crops. Drones can help in mapping the entire fields for estimating the moisture content of the soil for better and efficient field management.
– Analyzes Crop Quality
Modern-day drones are powerful to carry various imaging systems including infrared and thermal imaging systems which can be used to evaluate crop quality for nutrient and chlorophyll content.
– Legal Restriction
All drones between 0.55lbs and 55lbs required mandatory registration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA also holds the authority to dictate any use of drones in commercial or private spaces. Thus farmers need to have a complete understanding of the rules and regulations, which can be too complicated for many farmers.
– Flight Route Limitations
Drones also have a limited flight route permitted by the authorities, which has to be followed by all drones. Also, there are various restricted zones where drones can’t be used like near airport terminals.
– Knowledge limitations
Most of the farmers aren’t well-versed with the technical aspects of drones and struggle to operate drones. Farmers need to get educated about the features and functions of the drones to operate it with complete potential.
While the overall cost of drone technology has considerably reduced over the past decade, it is still much higher for the liking of most farmers. On average farming, drones may cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, which is much expensive for farmers to pay upfront.
How are drones used in agriculture for small farmers?
Drones can be utilized in small farms to map out pre-plating patterns, which enable farmers to maximizer the utilization of the area for plantation of crops. The farmers can also strategize preferred planting pattern for individual crops using drones, which significantly reduce the time to map out the plantation pattern on foot.
How long have drones been around in agriculture and farming?
While the drones have been around for nearly a century (may be not in its current form), the use of drones in agriculture may be traced by to a decade in early 2010s, when the drones were first used to get real-time imagery of farms.
What is the range of cost of drones in agriculture and farming?
The price of agriculture drones may vary greatly depending upon the type, complexity and use of the system. Nonetheless, on average agriculture drones may range between $2000 to over $25000.
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