agricultural drone
An agricultural drone over the fields

Agricultural drones are an unmanned aerial vehicles. They help farmers to increase efficiency in various areas of the farming process. Similarly, increasing the crop production by monitoring the crop growth and optimizing agricultural operations. The use of cameras, sensors, actuators and micro-controller help in the monitoring. The gathered information from the drones is transferred to a dashboard with the help of the Internet. Thereby, enabling farmers to understand the issue and make decisions.

By 2050, the human population will rise to an expected number of 9 billion. As a result, agricultural product growth will be an estimated 69% increase from the year 2010 to 2050. The latest technologies are needed to enable monitoring, measuring and reacting to external as well as internal parameters related to crops. Most importantly, the main goal of this approach is to use limited resources efficiently. As a result, maximizing the yield and challenging against severe weather conditions, weed outgrowth and rising food requirements.

Food production VS Population growth graph
Food production VS Population growth

Modern agriculture requires constant monitoring over fields to ensure optimal functioning. For instance, we need a suitable data collection system. There are two alternatives that can meet the farmer’s demand for increased supply of crops and decreased costs. They are a network of IoT devices and agricultural drones.

Drone technology is a huge innovation that has far-reaching effects in various fields and society, transforming lives and businesses. With the market for agricultural drones reaching billions, agriculture is now the second largest industry in terms of drone usage.

How Agricultural Drones work?

A drone construction includes propulsion and navigation system, GPS, sensors, cameras, programmable controllers and equipment for automated flights. The UAV drones for agriculture enables them to capture more accurate information. These drones have different, mainly audio-visual, sensors that collect data while flying over the fields. The drone-based software processes the collected data and delivers it in an easy-to-read format. A remote controller can navigate the flight of drones.

Components that make up a drone.
Components that make up a drone.

Advantages of Agricultural Drones

Utilizing drones help in crop health imaging, ease of use, potential to improve yields and in saving time. Drones can cover 10 times more land than a ground-based observer can cover in the same amount of time. Therefore, with the data gathered, it gives us insights into plant health, plant counting, canopy cover mapping, field prediction, plant height measurement, etc.

A big portion of agriculture and farming activities depends on the predictions of weather, rainfall, soil, etc., which fails most of the time. Consequently, farmers go through heavy losses. Therefore, researchers came up with the new technology for crop screening and efficient farming along with IoT. The aim is to digitize agricultural and farming activities. Meanwhile, allowing farmers to manage the needs of crops and make the predictions precisely.

Drones are deployed in large farms with varying climate. They are useful in situations where issues related to bacteria, fungus or pests are difficult to manage. Drones with machine vision and specialized algorithms can be used to find yield-limiting problems. They help farmers to see the real health of the plants. That is to say, by assessing factors such as the amount of sunlight, water, etc.

Drones produce precise 3D maps for soil analysis to enable farmers to take action accurately. The soil gets prepared for planting and sprayed with water, fertilizers or herbicides. Drone spraying and spreading is the future in farming. Drones have replaced the manual work of spraying pesticides and herbicides, making it easier to manage the huge crop fields. After planting, the soil analysis provides data for irrigation and nitrogen-level management.

Farmers receiving information from drones.
Farmers can take actions easily based on the information received through the drones.

Drone sensing technology

Drones collect information based on the light reflected by the crops. Using a specific type of sensor can help farmers collect data. Therefore, indicating where issues exist so that they can take appropriate actions. Thermal and hyper-spectral are the two most used sensors.

Firstly, thermal sensors can read the radiated temperature of the plants. For instance, it might help identify how plants are using water. Secondly, hyper-spectral sensors record many wavelengths of both visible and invisible light. They might be able to identify a specific type of plant by measuring the color of light reflected. Subsequently, it can be useful in picking out things like herbicide-resistant weeds.

Drone spraying pesticide over the fields.
Drone spraying pesticide over the fields.

Conclusion

Most of the benefits that the farmers gained stem from eliminating prediction and uncertainty. So, the success of farming depends on the factors that cannot be controlled like weather, soil conditions, temperature, precipitation, etc. The real-time information collected by the drones impacts the ability to adjust. Similarly, it impacts the efficiency in the farming process.

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