A few years ago, drones zoomed into the public eye. Since then, they’ve become a much more common sight. Recreational drones are now popular, and various startups and corporations have been developing new ways to use them.
In agriculture, drones are having an especially large impact. As companies continue to innovate new ways they can be used in agriculture and more farmers adopt the technology, drones are likely to revolutionize agriculture in the next five to 10 years. Here are a few benefits they can provide for agriculture.
Drone technology can help farmers make their operations much more efficient, which saves them money and leads to more affordable and abundant food supplies. Drones can do this by helping farmers with all sorts of farming tasks include surveying land, planting seeds and monitoring crops.
One UK-based startup, BioCarbon Engineering, is developing drone technology that can survey an area, create a planting blueprint and then actually plant seeds. It plants the seeds by launching biodegradable canisters containing a germinated seed and plant nutrients into the ground.
The startup created the idea to replant trees to help stop deforestation, but the idea has a lot of potential for farmers too. Automating the planting process, at least partly, could save them time and money while freeing them up to do other work on their farm.
Diseases, pests, underwatering and other problems can cause farmers to end up with lower yields. If they can spot these issues early, however, they may be able to put a stop to them before they significantly damage yield.
Drones can help farmers monitor their fields and spot problem areas before they do real harm. Drones can fly over fields and see things from a vantage point you couldn’t get from the ground. They can also regularly monitor crops by flying over and taking photos or sensing conditions. The farmer can review the data from the drones allowing them to identify any changes, even small ones.
When combined with other technologies, drones may be especially useful. Using drones and technology that allows farmers to track equipment location, speed and avoidance zones would help farmers to get a more accurate picture of their entire farming operation.
Using drones can allow farmers to monitor their crops more quickly and efficiently, which saves them time and money. If they stop problems before they spread, they’ll save their crops and save money. The profits from higher yields may even be worth more than the cost of a drone. When farmers save money, the cost of food may also go down for consumers and the quality of produce may improve as farmers can invest more back into their farming operations.
More accurate field monitoring may have environmental benefits as well. Being able to pinpoint an area where pests are causing problems, for example, allows farmers to target just that area with pesticides. This reduces the amount of chemicals used, which means fewer chemicals will enter the water, get into the air and contaminate other crops.
Stopping those plant diseases and other issues before they spread can help the environment as well. There’s less risk of those diseases spreading to other plants if they’re spotted and stopped early. When farmers are able to harvest more of the crops they plant, they may also be able to plant less. This means more land can be conserved and can continue being a habitat for animals and a hub for plant life and biodiversity.
Agriculture has a huge impact on the environment, especially as human populations continue to rise. Drones may play a part in reducing that impact in the future by allowing for more efficient farming operations. Better yields would also help us face the challenge of feeding our growing population.
Although some worry drones could compromise privacy and cause other issues, there are also plenty of potential benefits from the use of drones. While those fears are certainly not unfounded, the benefits may outweigh the risks if we use them correctly. Responsible use and appropriate regulations will play a part in how beneficial drones are to society. In agriculture, especially, they’re already doing a lot of good and have the potential to do much more as the technology continues to improve.
Your Wild Home