Up and coming Agricultural Technology: Drones
Drone technology has really taken off in recent years and has led to many improvements in agricultural technology. They can be used for so many large scale monitoring tasks that the applications for the small flying robots is practically endless. Agriculture uses this technology primarily, utilizing an infrared camera. Crops or livestock are monitored through use of the drone on a large scale. The robot produces a comprehensive infrared map that shows problem areas throughout agricultural acreage. This allows farmers to focus on ‘problem areas’ that could have irrigation issues or soil variations. Drones are also capable of identifying insect problems, crop yield monitoring, fertilizer needs and are even used to track down lost livestock over a large-scale area.
Identifying these issues manually, through walking around the crop is much more time consuming as well as less effective because sometimes problems that the infrared cameras pick up cannot be seen by the human eye.
The practice of identifying problems based on specific areas is called precision farming. Precision Farming has become more and more popular through the use of agricultural drones. This method of farming has proved time and time again to not only be more cost-effective, but also more efficient, producing a larger yield than traditional farming. Precision farming is also much more environmentally friendly, as it generally allows farmers to use less resources (such as pesticides) on the whole area and focuses only on the crop portions that actually need them.
Drones are relatively inexpensive for agricultural purposes and usually run somewhere around $1,000 per unit. They most commonly resemble a mini-airplane or quadrocopter.
While the legality and safety of drones for the agricultural industry is still being debated in the United States, countries like Canada, Australia, Japan and Brazil are all using this technology to enhance their crop yields and quality right now and seeing successful results.