6 ways to use a drone on the farm

ccording to an April 2018 survey of 269 U.S. farmers, 76 percent of all respondents have concerns related to drone usage. Privacy issues, at 23 percent, topped the list, followed by cybersecurity concerns over data captured and transferred, and potential damage or injury from the drone. 

These concerns don’t seem to be slowing adoption with a reported 76 percent of surveyed farmers considering using drones.

William Thiele of Butler County, Pennsylvania, has been using a drone for several years. This week’s Farming 101 takes in look at the top drone uses on the farm. 

1Field checks
Drones are helpful for everyday crop checks, but can also be helpful in annual checks to see if what you have done to improve drainage, or whatever else, is working.

2Annual progress
If you fly over your field on the same day each year you can see improvements or notice that nothing has changed.

3Pest control
Thiele also uses the drone to check his pest traps. He traps raccoons and groundhogs that destroy their crops and are a nuisance to the farm. Using the drone to check the traps saves him steps and time by first discovering which traps need attention.

4Spot spraying
DJI makes a drone about two or three times larger than a typical drone with eight rotors that can be used to spot spray. It lifts a tank high into the air, and the operator can view the field from the air and spray where it is need, saving time and money with precision spraying.

Normalized difference vegetation index is a numerical indicator that uses the visible and near-infrared bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.

This technology has been adopted to analyze remote sensing measurements and assess whether the target being observed contains live green vegetation or not. With NVDI, you can determine crop damage, stress, draught, wind or hail damage.

Farmers are lifelong learners, hosting many field days and discussions to share and learn from one another, Thiele, like others, has used his drone to share farming practices with others.

He has taken drone footage at farming events so farmers could see what was happening in the field live on a screen. He also focuses on agricultural advocacy, taking videos of the everyday happenings at his farm and creating a voice-over to educate consumers.