Due to the reduction of cultivated land area, farmer need the best tools to keep adding more output per acre as demand for high quality, nutritious crops expands rapidly. Using agricultural drones (aka UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles) is the next logical step in the progression of increased yields and decreased costs。
Fortunately there are many precision ag drones for sale, so let’s explore some of the ways you can use the sensors these farming drones carry for advanced precision agriculture.
WHAT IS PRECISION AGRICULTURE?
Precision Agriculture is the science of using data and sensors to helps you get the best possible harvest at the lowest costs.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO SPEND?
The beauty of the Matrice series drones is their modularity, so purchasing an agriculture-specific NDVI camera for $1,199 allows for a 10-second swap between visual and near-IR imaging.
HOW AGRICULTURAL DRONES FIT INTO THE PRECISION AG ECOSYSTEM
Drones supplement other precision agricultural collection methods (like the sensors in your planter, harvester, and irrigation systems) by providing both the “big picture” and the “small picture.”
OVERVIEW MAPPING OF THE “BIG PICTURE”
To get the “big picture”, we can using multiple smaller photos and image-stitching software from companies like Drone Deploy
CLOSE-UP PROBLEM SOLVING OF THE “SMALL PICTURE”
When a problem spot is identified, you can then use an ag drone to look at a specific spot on the field by descending to just a few feet above the problem area and recording close-up pictures and video to determine the next steps.
BEYOND-VISUAL IMAGING OVERVIEW
With farming drones and UAVs that use traditional cameras (i.e. “RGB” sensors for red, green, blue), you can replace expensive manned aircraft and helicopter flights that could cost thousands of dollars per hour.
WHAT IS NDVI?
NDVI is an acronym that refers to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. using a sensor that can see into the infrared spectrum yields an entirely new image that shows the overall health of a plant.
AGRICULTURAL DRONE OPTIONS
To start out, we suggest renting an easy-to-use drone like the Phantom 4 Pro. It has a visual spectrum camera.
Once you decide to try beyond visual spectrum imaging, the Matrice M210 series is your best bet. You can attach and remove cameras as your needs change.
For larger farms, 500 acres and above, you’ll want a longer flight time drone.