An agricultural drone (or simply a “drone”) is an aircraft that is controlled by a person or software remotely. Since such “flying robots” became available to a wide range of consumers, they began to be used in many areas of production and life.
The use of UAVs – unmanned aerial vehicles over time opens up more and more new perspectives for mankind, and today many authoritative experts in the field of robotics declare that in the near future with the help of agricultural drone it will be possible to create and operate a fundamentally new system of agro-management – the so-called Precision farming.
Agricultural quadcopter capabilities
Experts say that with the help of quadcopters and a new system for processing data from soil analyzes and the external state of crops grown, it will be possible to:
- to significantly modernize the agricultural sector as a whole;
- increase the yield of most crops grown;
- organize a well-functioning system of planting and caring for grown crops
What opportunities does the use of agricultural drones offer to farmers? Already, many agricultural enterprises of technologically advanced countries use agricultural drones to solve the following tasks:
- Soil analysis and the creation of three-dimensional maps, which are subsequently used for the correct planting of crops.
- Planting seeds of various crops in special capsules to the depth of the soil that is set to the drone. With this method of planting, the drone literally “shoots” a capsule with seed into the ground.
- Treating crops with chemicals and pesticides necessary for a good harvest. Echolocation is often used to determine the height at which the aircraft will need to “hover” during this spraying.
- Watering. Thanks to a system of special sensors, the agricultural drone can determine the level of aridity of the soil and supply areas in dire need of irrigation with water. Already, the design of new quadrocopters with increased carrying capacity for irrigation of large areas is underway.
- Plant condition monitoring. In this case, the drone copes with the task of obtaining information about the state much faster than a farmer wandering through the beds and examining the bushes of plants.
- Estimates of the vegetative index of plants. The quality parameters of the crop are much easier to track using unmanned vehicles equipped with multispectral cameras. In some cases, timely tracking of the appearance of parasites helped save entire hectares of plants from crop loss.
Advantages and disadvantages of agricultural drone
Among the undoubted advantages of using agricultural quadrocopters, experts point out:
- Possibility of transition to the system of “precision farming”, the main advantage of which is the ability to promptly deliver all the necessary fertilizers and minerals to any point on the land using drones.
- Work speed. On average, it will take a person about a day to plant 10 square kilometers of the forest with seeds. The drone will only take three hours to do this. In addition, agricultural drones running the appropriate software can monitor soil data much faster than an ordinary agronomist.
- Cost savings. We are talking here not only about the payment of farm labor but also about saving money on fuel, which is spent by farmers in large quantities every day when going around their own estates.
- Possibility of round-the-clock work. While large agricultural companies lack the “manpower” to even handle two shifts, drones can operate 24/7 with only occasional interruptions for maintenance.
- Attracting new specialists in the field of agriculture. The use of the latest technologies will make agriculture more prestigious in the eyes of young engineers and agronomists.
Naturally, the use of such an innovative method of agricultural drone activity cannot but have certain drawbacks in comparison with, outdated, but well-proven methods. Among the shortcomings of the Precision Farming system, it is customary to single out the high cost of drones, as well as a low degree of protection from adverse weather factors.