Quality Data For Profitable Management
Successful farmers have always known that farming is about preparedness and reaction time: reacting to changes of season, inclement weather, and disease separate the best farmers from the rest. Great farmers keep with the times, and that’s why they’re adopting precision agriculture, dividing the traditional farm into “zones” that can be individually managed and topographically mapped with a range of precise machinery. Precision agriculture provides you with the means to store, combine, and analyze a constant stream of data, allowing you to keep tabs on every crop, protect your investments, and maximize income with every new harvest.
Precision Agricultural Drones
From the earliest stone hoes to the latest combine thresher, technology has always been a part of farming and a means of ensuring a reliable return on your investment. Using digital imaging and multispectral cameras, Drone Services Canada uses agricultural drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to capture, analyze, and compile data through regular drone flights, periodically conducting flyovers and allowing farmers to monitor changes in crops, soil quality, and irrigation. Some economic predictions estimate that future farms will corner more than 80% of the commercial drone market; in the next few years, the drone will join the mule and the tractor as an indispensable farming tool.
One way or another, humans have been sowing and harvesting for millennia – it’s one of the defining features of human civilization. Modern “agribusiness” is a game of mass production, vertical farming, and genetically-modified organisms. Cheap, fast production is the name of the agribusiness game, and as climate change worsens the need to keep crops healthy and on-schedule grows ever greater.
Common challenges for the agricultural industry
Changing farm conditions
- Farming is no longer a community endeavor – it’s a global one. Big markets require big farms, and big farms need advanced agricultural technology to stay efficient and competitive.
Farm acreage is growing in size. As more and more people move into cities, the labor market for farmhands and seasonal help grows smaller. The need for automation in the agricultural sector grows greater than ever.
Use of Drones in Agricultural Industry
- At the beginning of the crop cycle, aerial surveyors allow farmers to find the best locations to scout for crops, inspect the land and plan future crop rotations.
Soil mapping and surveying
- Drones with onboard aerial mapping software can create precise three-dimensional maps and “geographic information system surveys” (GIS surveys), tracking soil quantity and richness, allowing farmers to find high yield zones and determine irrigation and nitrogen management strategies.
- Maps created using normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) software can help determine potential disease vectors and act as a tool for precise soil analysis.Throughout the crop cycle, drones can identify crop variation, detect unhealthy crops, and track damage across an entire field in a matter of hours.
- Digital elevation maps (DEM)s allow farmers to plan and understand the topographic movement and elevations of water, soil, and fertilizer.
- Startup companies have already begun designing drones capable of planting seeds – spraying the ground with a barrage of seeds from above, drones can deliver payloads faster and more efficiently than humans.
- As crops grow, drones can calculate the vegetation index to check the density and health of a crop by examining its heat signature.
- Time-lapse photography can show the precise development of a crop and pinpoint production inefficiencies or irregularities, allowing for tighter crop management.
Irrigation management and optimization
- Multispectral imaging allows drones to identify dry parts of a field so that farmers can adjust their course accordingly.
- Drones possess sensor systems that allow them to adjust their altitude and move with field topography, avoiding collisions with low-hanging objects and allowing them to douse crops with the correct amount of water. Drone irrigation sprays in real time for even coverage.
- Aerial spraying techniques simulate natural rainfalls – and are five times more efficient than the old days of sprinklers and pipelines.
Optimal variable rate application determination
- Multi-spectral imaging precisely measures the application of seeds, chemicals, and fertilizers and their growth rate.
- Orthomosaic imaging uses high-resolution aerial mapping made up from independently shot and compiled RGB images, creating detailed, high-resolution images that allow farmers to check up on the health of their plants and optimize yields.
- Drones with an onboard remote sensor suite can detect changes in air pressure and temperature faster than a weather satellite, allowing farmers to better prepare for sudden changes in weather or temperature.
- Compared to weather satellites – which need to be primed several days in advance and could only be ordered once a day – drones offer an instantaneous source of weather forecasting information.
Pest Control Strategies
- Heavy-duty drones can carry onboard payloads of fertilizers and/or pesticides, allowing them to thoroughly spray crops without having to hire an airplane. Integrated pest management strategies allow farmers to cheaply keep pests below the economic injury level.
- Drones that irrigate crops from above can be refitted to spray pesticides, alternating as the seasons and needs of the farm change.
Crop Scouting and Detecting Unhealthy Crops
- Using normalized difference vegetation index (NVDI) software accurately tracks the health of crops using regular flyovers.
- Plants reflect different amounts of light (both normal and near infrared) depending on their state of health, and by snapping pictures on this wavelength of the light spectrum, drones can highlight healthy or unhealthy plants – without having to traipse through the cornfields to search for caterpillars.
- Using multispectral imaging, farmers can track malignant diseases and fungus, eliminating vectors of infection before they have the chance to spread.
- In the eventuality of crop failure, farmers will be able to accurately track and document losses to process insurance claims.
When I first called them for a free estimate, I was skeptical about the value of drones and how I could benefit from what they had to offer. To me, drones were toys, nothing more. But after being around Eric & Michael and seeing how professional they were and how knowledgeable they were about my business and how the data they were collecting would help me make my business more profitable, I started to pay attention. They really put my mind at ease. They asked me about my business and were earnest to learn about my challenges. They flew for a few hours and left. A few days later, they delivered all the goods and I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the images and reporting. I really had no idea how significant this data would be. It has helped me make better decisions and feel so much more confident about the future of our family business. I would highly recommend working with this team of professionals because they have such a sincere approach and they deliver quality work!
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