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6 Benefits of Precision Agriculture Using Drones

Precision agriculture using drones offers ample benefits in maintaining our forests and farms, which are at the frontline of human survival. As the global population continues to rise year after year, agriculturalists are being pushed to rethink how they grow and manage crops. According to one study published on Online Library, global food demand could rise between 59 percent and 98 percent by 2050—a significant increase that will have a major impact on the industry. 

At Aerial Vantage, one of the core pillars of our mission is to feed the world. We aim to achieve this by harnessing the innovative power of drone technology through precision agriculture. Precision agriculture is an emerging methodology that involves using sensors and analytical tools to produce and treat crops in a strategic, site-specific manner.

Through drone precision agriculture, growers have the potential to increase crop yields and reduce water, pesticide, and fertilizer inputs. If you are in the agricultural industry, your organization can benefit from this process. Here are a few ways that planning and executing a drone mission can make farming more sustainable, successful, and profitable—mutually benefiting providers, growers and the rest of us!  

1. Collect Powerful Agricultural Data

In order to be effective, precision agriculture needs a steady stream of data. This is where drones come into play.  More and more agriculturalists are using drones to collect data to monitor crops. Drones can quickly observe large volumes of land and give growers the useful insights they need to navigate changing environmental conditions and maximize output. 

“Growers have been developing their skill set throughout their lifetime, and the lifetime of their operation,” says Aerial Vantage agronomist Anna Weigel, who specializes in crop and soil science. “Each growing season presents a different set of challenges, and these growers often have to make a decision of where to direct their expertise for the sake of time. Utilizing drone data in your field management routine allows for the grower to use their time and knowledge most efficiently – where and when it matters most.”

This stresses the importance of a robust data collection and processing interface. Aerial Vantage is well-equipped with the software expertise and working knowledge of advanced analytics to ensure you are getting the most out of your drone data in the following areas. Our Accelerate platform is a great solution for capturing, processing, and extracting value from your aerial imagery data.

Surveying of Land

Land management is one of the most challenging aspects of farming. Among other things, farmers need to keep careful track of shifting topography and borders to avoid encroaching on nearby land. This is important for avoiding zoning penalties, lawsuits, and angry neighbors. 

By using drones, farmers can keep close tabs on their properties as they change over time. Drones are easier, more accurate, and more cost-effective than traditional surveillance technologies like crewed aircraft and satellites. This mapping of data can then be stored and adjusted as needed for future reference.  

Planting

Drones are highly effective at collecting metrics such as land elevation and slope. Growers can use this information to determine optimum seeding rates and spacing. Aerial imagery collected after emergence can identify potential inconsistencies with planting equipment, irrigation, or starter fertilizers. This knowledge can then provide opportunity for adjustments, and can help the following growing season to start off on the right foot. 

Irrigation Planning

Crops depend heavily on irrigation functioning properly, so growers must carefully plan irrigation systems and analyze water distribution to track effectiveness.  

Precision agriculture using drones can help growers gain fresh insights into irrigation systems, helping them monitor consistency and make strategic changes to improve water movement and application.  

Resource Distribution

Crop needs are highly complex, and growing requirements vary due to slight differences in soil, sunlight, and temperature.

Growers can use drones to assess crop fertility and observe exactly where to apply resources like fertilizer and pesticides. Using this data, it’s possible to achieve greater consistency and maximize production.

Security

Farmers need to keep a close eye on crops and equipment to prevent theft and damage from people and wildlife. However, this is no easy task—especially when managing hundreds or thousands of acres of land at a time. 

To make security easier, a growing number of farmers are now turning to surveillance drones that can cover large areas and fly for long periods at a time. Drones can capture detailed aerial footage and get close to unauthorized individuals. They can also communicate with security systems and wildlife deterrence systems to help stop intruders in their tracks.  

2. Lower Costs

Producing a bountiful crop can sum up to be quite costly, factoring in expenses such as fuel, oil, water, electricity, rent, insurance, and other inputs. For this reason, farmers usually operate on tight budgets and often have to rely on loans and grants to get by. There is no room for wasteful spending. 

Although the upfront costs of drones may seem like a daunting capital investment, it doesn’t have to be. With Aerial Vantage, your organization will have access to the vehicles, pilots and the software platform to help you meet your business goals. We are agriculturalists’ one-stop-partner for acquiring business value from drone flights, doing the heavy lifting in drone mission planning and execution.

tractor in field Precision agriculture using drones

3. Increase Efficiency

Drones are also adept at efficiently transporting products and supplies for growers to keep operations running and crops healthy. This also has the added benefit of reducing reliance on vehicles and equipment, leading to lower fuel costs and carbon emissions.  

Accurately identifying where to apply fertilizer, pesticides and water via drones can have a substantial impact on your initial investment and the resulting margins! Using drones to apply pesticides costs substantially less than other methods currently in use. 

In addition, drones can reach places where trucks can’t travel and other hard-to-reach areas for humans. For example, a team picking vegetables in the middle of a large field can use drones to transport items to and from this exact location, reducing hauling and saving time and energy while boosting productivity. Drone operations can reduce compaction from field machinery, and allow crop management to continue even when the field conditions prevent traditional equipment from entering.

4. Optimize Crop Yield

What is the state of your current crop? Where is there plant or water stress? Where are the weeds taking over? Knowing the answer to such questions can make the difference between a strong harvest and a disappointing one.

Since crops are the livelihood of farmers, keeping them alive and thriving is top priority. By relying on precision agriculture using drones, farmers can have their finger on the pulse of crop fertility, automating data collection and receiving powerful insights to better inform growing and harvest practices. 

It can be difficult for farmers to keep track of important crop metrics such as chemicals per output, water per output, and estimated production potential. Using data collected, organized, and stored from drones, it is possible to optimize crop yields this year, and in future growing seasons.

“Utilizing drone data in precision agriculture management is an opportunity for the grower to know more about their field and crop than ever before,” says Weigel. “Nutrient, water, and environmental stresses can be identified and treated in a fraction of the time, and on a larger scale than scouting or tissue sampling could reasonably achieve”.

5. Improve Worker Safety

Another top priority in agriculture is ensuring the health and safety of both managers and employees of the farm, who often work in harsh, demanding conditions. Without workers, a farm can’t function. They are an integral component of planting, maintaining, and harvesting crops. 

Farming can be risky, especially in areas with extreme weather conditions like heat, lightning, and tornadoes. By using environmental sensors and drones, farmers can stay on top of rapidly shifting weather conditions and avoid dangerous and life-threatening situations.  

For example, farms can use drone-enabled temperature sensors to remind workers to hydrate and seek shelter during times of peak sunlight. Sensors can also help determine when a dangerous storm that might bring flooding or excessive wind is approaching.

6. Enhance Disaster Response 

Agricultural disasters can stem from a variety of environmental factors, including fires, flooding, land movement, and drought. Growers need to have systems in place to identify disasters when they occur and to respond quickly to mitigate damage.  

Drones can assist before, during, and after disasters, giving farmers advanced data to plan and respond to incidents whenever they occur. For example, farmers may use drones after a fire or flood to immediately assess damage over a large area and then plan and prioritize an appropriate response. This can be especially useful for gathering information in areas that are not safe or reasonable to traverse on foot or by motor vehicle.

agriculture drone precision agriculture using drones

Partner With Aerial Vantage for Precision Agriculture Using Drones

Growers and agriculturalists can benefit from drone missions that point to possible problems with what is growing and what is grazing on their land, allowing them to get ahead while saving significantly on costs and losses.

Aerial Vantage is excited to be leading the way in drone use in precision agriculture. Our team of drone pilots, agricultural specialists, and data analysts are ready to help you make your next farm drone mission a success. Boost the efficiency and safety of your farming operation by letting us do the heavy lifting while you focus on what’s important. Contact us today to enhance precision agriculture using drones.

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