PRACTICAL WAYS DRONES ARE AIDING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY

ICT4Agriculture

Introducing and using technology will help to improve agricultural productivity and make it easy for young people to find aspects they can be attracted to explore profitably.

With the average age of the farming population at 65, the continent needs to encourage youths to embrace agriculture as a means of employment and the introduction of technology tools like drones has to be readily available to make agriculture fun and more attractive to young people.

Drones — the small flying robot variety — are ushering in a new agricultural revolution, says information specialist Gerard Sylvester, editor of a new report on drones and farming by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Telecommunication Union.

If you are new to farming or do not know too much about farming, you might be wondering the essence of the use of the drone in the agricultural space.

With the various challenges encountered by farmers, especially on issues of water – both quality and quantity, climate change, glyphosate-resistant weeds, soil quality, uncertain commodity prices, and increasing input prices to name a few, the use of a drone is one of the available options to mitigate these and other concerns.

Shifting towards precision agriculture, which is essentially the collection of data, it storage and analysis to effectively provide nutrients and proper management of the crop by partitioning the field into portions that managed by individuals with a range of GPS-equipped precision tools can help tackle these concerns.

The Current Drone Influence in Agriculture

Drones are relatively affordable especially when you buy from the alternative technology countries like China, Malaysia, and Japan to mention a few and it doesn’t require a whole lot of training to pilot. With a few days of learning and practice, a person can use a drone and build up other techniques. They are strong enough to carry the kinds of remote sensing technology that, in the past, required satellite connectivity or the use of full-size, crewed aircraft.

Here are just a few of the practical ways drones are set to help us fill the agricultural production gap for the future:

Mechanical pollinators

A New York-based start-up has developed pollen-dumping drones that have helped pollinate almond, cherry and apple orchards. The company reports that its drones can increase pollination rates by 25 to 65 percent, though actual analyses verifying those numbers are yet to complete.

Bee Innovative, a drone company, has been tracking honeybees in real time for precision pollination. Bee Innovative claims that its “BeeDar” solution has already delivered 20 percent increases in crop yields and returns for farmers season to season.

Seed Planting

Companies such as DroneSeed are building drones that can blast seeds into the ground at 350 feet per second. DroneSeed says its solution is good for the environment, worker safety and investors. DroneSeed’s drones currently have a flight time of about 30 minutes; after changing batteries, the drones can cover an acre within 1.5 hours.

Insurance

In recent times, insurance companies are using, drone technology in managing agriculture claims.

Crop spraying

Experts believe that aerial spraying can be completed up to five times faster with drones than with traditional machinery. Drones can scan the ground and spray the right amount of liquid, modulating distance from the soil and spraying in real time for even coverage. The result is increased efficiency with a reduction in the number of chemicals penetrating groundwater.

Crop Monitoring

In December 2015, DJI (the world’s largest producer of civilian drones and aerial imaging technology) announced a collaboration with Flir Systems Inc., an Oregon-based sensor manufacturer that focuses on thermal imaging. In agriculture, farmers use thermal imaging as they fly over fields to indicate dry spots, over-watering, crop height or pesticide use.

Drones are also useful in Animal Husbandry

In big ranches, drones are essential equipment when coupling with infrared cameras that detect the body heat or stray animals and animals covered by vegetation.

A drone can also be used to create a more up to date, high-resolution map of a ranch with a combination of flight planning software and photogrammetry software that combines many overlapping photos into one georeferenced map. This map is always of a higher resolution and better detailed than maps from the satellites.

 What’s next?

Agricultural drones are here to stay. Young farmers embrace the technology, save up for one and integrate it into our farming routine.

Enjoy your drone adventure!

The Image of drone spraying the crops first appeared on Factor Daily

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