Let’s face it, drones are fashionable in many areas, and they are more than attractive for some professions, such as photography and making audiovisual content. But are they useful on a farm?
You will be surprised to know that drones can be a precision agriculture tool capable of providing us with a lot of information —and, incidentally, saving costs. Agricultural drones are here to stay. Now, do all farmers need to own one?
How agricultural drones can be useful on your farm
A drone can have various applications in the field of agriculture:
- Application of phytosanitary products: Fumigating with drones is possible and very convenient. It not only saves costs and labor, but also improves the efficiency and quality of the phytosanitary application. With an agricultural drone we can reach difficult or difficult access places, and direct the fumigation according to the needs. It even reduces the environmental impact and improves the health of the operators who no longer need to be exposed to pesticides.
- Capture of multispectral images: Drones allow to collect a lot of information. By obtaining multispectral images we can measure plant vigor. We can achieve this with fixed-wing agricultural drones (they look like small planes) that can cover large areas of land (up to 500 ha in a single day) and collect a lot of information. With these sensors, the drone will detect the color that humans see and determine the vigor of the crops, apart from identifying problems, if any.
- Thermal imaging: With thermal imaging cameras, agricultural drones can capture thermal photos and videos. In this way, the temperature of each pixel is measured and a complete thermal map of the plot can be formed. It is a very useful source of information for detecting water stress, since closing the stomata and reducing perspiration will increase the temperature of the leaves. The drone’s thermographic sensor can detect it, being much more effective than an eye inspection at the foot of the field.
- Geomatics and topography: The images collected by an agricultural drone allow to carry out topographical surveys of the terrain, that is, a complete description of a specific terrain. All existing natural elements are represented, such as geographical features (rivers, slopes …) and even those artificial, built by man, such as roads or buildings. The probability that you will make mistakes in a topographic survey is minimal.
What advantages do agricultural drones have compared to satellites
On many occasions, precision farmers are faced with the dilemma of whether it is better to use satellite imagery to survey crops or whether it is better to use agricultural drones instead. Both options are valid and, although combining the two technologies would be ideal, drones have some advantages to take into account.
Working with satellites means depending on the weather. On the other hand, if we use a drone, the clouds will not be a problem. This meteorological inconvenience of the satellites also prevents us from ensuring that we will be able to obtain images on a specific date and time. Therefore, compared to satellites, agricultural drones offer 3 advantages:
- Flights with exact dates: the most appropriate according to the phenological moment of the crop. When it comes to precision farming, dates are very important.
- Flights made in the ideal time slot.
- Do not depend on the weather: the clouds do not affect because the drone flies below them. Only rain and excessive wind make flight impossible.
How to interpret the data?
In addition to having the knowledge to operate a drone, it is necessary to have a specialized technician to interpret the images. If we don’t interpret the images, we won’t be able to take advantage of the drone. A technician will be able to analyze the information and determine if irrigation solutions need to be applied in dry locations. It will also be able to detect diseases in specific stands or even fertilization deficiencies, if there are any.
To convert the images captured by the drone into data, programs have been developed at the service of precision agriculture. In this way, flight information is processed through remote sensing indices that generate maps. Finally, these indices must be interpreted agronomically to conclude the state of the crop.
So, can I buy a drone?
Opting for the first option can be cheaper, but only if you have the help of a specialized technician. This gives you autonomy and versatility, since you can use the drone for various tasks at the time you need it. On the other hand, if you do not have access to a technician, then you can hire a specialized service to obtain results —interpreted and with proposed solutions— at specific times.
What else should I keep in mind?
Whether you decide to buy a drone or if you prefer to hire the service of a specialized company, there is an important factor to take into account: there is legislation and it establishes limitations.
It is important to know the laws, as specific parameters of height, weight, distance from the operator, specialized license and civil liability, among others, that are required on each flight are required. Additionally, there are flight restrictions that cannot be ignored.
As you can see, using a drone on your farm can mean considerable savings in seed, fertilizer and phytosanitary costs if you work with precision agriculture and have machinery adapted to agriculture 4.0. In addition, to close the circle and see how agricultural drones can improve your investment, you have Skytech Solutions.
You will have in the palm of your hand a program capable of analyzing costs and a tool to compare and evaluate the incorporation of agricultural drones into your crops. Don’t think twice, try Skytech Solutions today! And if you have questions, get in touch with us.
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