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Posted Dec 21, 2018 by kelly

Precision Agriculture: Five ways drones are changing the way we farm

Drones and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) continue to open up endless opportunity for the future of farming, with current applications allowing agronomists to not only increase efficiency and productivity, but ultimately, growth and yield. Here are five applications in precision farming that could facilitate timeous in-season decision making, lower your costs and maximize your yield:

1. Stand Counting 🌱

Stand counting refers to the counting of plants or crops through a drone survey of an entire field, enabling the comparison of this against the results that were initially expected or planned. This process holds great value and can be used to evaluate plant emergence and germination, spotting areas with potential crop losses early, appraising the quality of seeds, assessing the effectiveness of replanting measures, and even estimating the potential yield.

2. Plant Population Reporting 🌿

Although very similar, plant population differs from stand counting in that plants will be counted without being compared to any other additional datasets. Using drone technology, you are able to determine the exact number of crops or plants in a particular field as well as the number and percentage of missing crops and plants. Plant population allows for the counting of perennial plantations along with orchards and similar types of fields. As with stand counts, plant population data can be used for the same purposes.

3. Plant Stress Analysis 🌽

Using drones for plant stress analysis indicates to agronomists how healthy a crop is and enables proactive reactions to potential problems identified in certain plants or crops. Plant stress analysis helps to explore how both external and internal parameters are affecting the health of a particular crop in mid to late growth stages. These reports indicate the exact location and percentage of areas with stress and can include, crops or plants that have not yet developed into healthy plants, areas with disease, areas without plants, drought among plants or any additional factors that limit yield.

4. Weed Analysis 🌾

Drone-based weed detection allows weeds to be quickly identified and for effective, in-season corrective measures and pesticide usage to be optimized. Simply, weeds can be identified before they spread.  As with stress analysis, drone data indicates the exact percentage and geo-referenced position of a weed infestation. However, high-resolution images are vital to achieve conclusive results. This analysis can also be done throughout the season to regularly monitor crops.

5. Pest Damage Analysis 🌻

A further use of drones in farming is to conduct flights to determine whether a field has been affected by pest damage. Detecting pest infestations early holds tremendous value as it allows agronomists to fully optimize the use of pesticides to treat problem areas. As with weed analysis, you can detect infested areas of a field precisely and accurately which opens a window to take quick action regarding yield-saving control measures. Drone date is particularly effective when detecting pest infested areas because an analysis can be done on the entire surface including both crops and plants.

The Final Word

Drone technology offers agronomists profound benefits when it comes to sustainably investigating the heath of crops and plants. It helps to pick up problem areas not visible to the human eye, and for preventative, cost-saving measures to be put in place on-time and in-season. Agronomists can now be empowered with the right information precisely when it is needed; this is the future of farming at its best.