8.3 How are drones revolutionising agriculture

Farmers and in general anyone in the agricultural industry should be prepared to take on new technologies for producing food, increasing productivity, and making sustainability a priority. Drones are part of the solution, along with closer collaboration between governments, technology leaders, and industry.

Here are 6 ways drones can assist in agriculture:

1. Soil and field analysis: Drones can be helpful at the start of the crop cycle. They are able to produce 3-D maps for the early soil analysis, which is useful in planning seed planting patterns. After planting, drone-driven soil analysis provides data for irrigation and nitrogen-level management.

2. Planting: Start-ups have created drone-planting systems that achieve an uptake rate of 75% and decrease planting costs by 85%. These systems shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil, providing the plant all the nutrients necessary to sustain life.

3. Crop spraying: Distance-measuring equipment, meaning ultrasonic echoing and lasers, enables a drone to adjust altitude as the topography and geography vary, and thus avoid collisions. Consequently, drones can scan the ground and spray the correct amount of liquid, modulating distance from the ground and spraying in real time for even coverage. The result: increased efficiency with a reduction of in the amount of chemicals penetrating into groundwater.
*Experts estimate that aerial spraying can be completed up to five times faster with drones than with traditional machinery.

4. Crop monitoring: Vast fields and low efficiency in crop monitoring together create the largest obstacle in farming. Unpredictable weather conditions make the process even more challenging which increase risk and field maintenance costs. Previously, satellite imagery offered the most advanced form of monitoring. But there were drawbacks. Images had to be ordered in advance, could be taken only once a day, and were imprecise. Furthermore, these services were extremely costly and the images’ quality was low especially on days where the weather was poor. Today, time-series animations can show the precise development of a crop and reveal production inefficiencies, enabling better crop management.

5. Irrigation: Drones with hyperspectral, multispectral, or thermal sensors can identify which parts of a field are dry or need improvements. Additionally, once the crop starts growing, drones allow the calculation of the vegetation table, which describes the relative density and health of the crop.

6. Health assessment: It’s essential to assess crop health and spot bacterial or fungal infections on trees. Drone-carried devices can identify which plants reflect different amounts of green light and NIR light, by scanning a crop using both visible and near-infrared light. This information can produce multispectral images that track changes in plants and indicate their health. A speedy response can save an entire crop. In addition, as soon as a sickness is discovered, farmers can apply and monitor remedies more precisely. These two possibilities increase a plant’s ability to overcome disease. And in the case of crop failure, the farmer will be able to document losses more efficiently for insurance claims.


Additional Task: https://h5p.org/node/726348