It’s very likely you’ve noticed that drones, once a hobby for a few enthusiasts, have become major tools across a number of industries. Today, construction drones survey and map job sites, military drones spy on enemy combatants, and delivery and cargo drones transport goods across increasing distances. And now drones are even found on our agricultural farms!
The global market for drone-powered solutions in agriculture is already estimated to be at $32.4 billion, while 74% of U.S. farmers are currently using or considering adopting drone technology to assess, monitor, and manage their farms. The growing popularity of ag drones is why Equipment Trader has now opened up our online marketplace to include drones as an option for buying and selling, and why today on our blog we’re quickly breaking down how ag drones have become a major tool for farmers!
Inspection & Observation
Drones are known for capturing beautiful aerial photographs, which is useful for monitoring fields, but ag drones also use sensory tools to see what the human eye cannot. With sensors like spectroscopes and infrared cameras to examine fields and vegetation, farmers can monitor factors like crop health, the presence of insects, and irrigation levels, discovering issues sooner than on-the-ground surveying would reveal. Catching problems ahead of time helps farmers engage in preventative treatment in the exact areas that need help.
Ag drones aren’t just for observation, they can also directly assist in “precision farming,” using their sensors and maneuverability to plant seeds or spray crops. Drone planting systems that shoot pods of seeds and nutrients into the soil can achieve an uptake rate of 75% and decrease planting costs by 85%, while drone spraying can be conducted 5X faster than traditional machinery and can significantly reduce chemicals introduced into groundwater with programmed precision.
Operating Ag Drones
To fly, drones utilize both rotary blades and/or fixed wings, and can be operated manually via remote or autonomously by programming in set routes. Farmers who use drones do have to abide by federal regulations for commercial drone use, including obtaining drone pilot certification, restricting flights to daytime hours, limiting altitude to 400 feet and speed to 100mph, and keeping the drones within their line-of-sight at all times. The rural setting of farms, however, provides the perfect setting for the implementation of ag drones, as urban areas come with many more aircraft restrictions.
If you’re interested, you can check out 8 Things to Consider When Buying an Ag Drone HERE. And we’d love to know what you think! Do you use ag drones? Would you ever consider using an ag drone? Let us know in the comments below!