Drones have a variety of names and they range from unmanned aerial vehicles to unmanned aerial systems. People are more familiar with drones as the designations, and the layman has come to know them as flying little craft in the sky controlled remotely by someone on the ground. We have seen a lot of automation introduced into farming practices and drones are the latest pieces of technology that are entering the scene, and the question is, what exactly do they have to do with agriculture?
Drones are very useful for a lot of things. There are certain aspects of agriculture that are difficult and troublesome to carry out—and this is where drones come in. These things are very crucial to farming and drones can really be of service.
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Drones can be utilized to verify that plants are actually growing across a very large field, and this monitoring can be carried out remotely with drones.
Detecting Problems Early
After monitoring comes detection. And with drone supervision, you can quickly detect and identify areas that are in need of attention. Drones can detect areas of poor growth and crop damage as soon as they start to emerge. This will increase the chances of taking corrective measures that will actually solve the problem.
Crops will never grow evenly and selecting areas where to boost this growth with fertilizer and what quantity is needed based on plant density and health can actually cut costs down a lot. This concept is referred to as variable rate application, and if done well, this will save you some money and ultimately increase crop yield.
What is peculiar here is knowledge of what is happening in the farm in real time. This is often called ground truth, and the usual way to get ground truth is by inspecting the field physically with your feet on the ground and your eyes on the crop, which is not very practical especially if you have to check on a very large expanse of land. Also, using a vehicle to inspect is not that great because if you have areas of poor growth mixed throughout a field, it is very difficult to detect exactly where the problems lie. This is what makes drones particularly useful.
General Overview of How It Works
A human on the ground operates the drone that will cover the field and the drone flies around in a specified pattern, taking pictures as it traverses the field with the cameras equipped on it. These pictures are geo-tagged, and after landing, a software is used to put the photos together into one large mosaic.
With a few processing tricks, the areas of healthy growth stand out compared to everything else and this makes the areas of poor growth or stressed plants easy to pick out. Having this kind of data makes it easier to make decisions and take action immediately on the affected areas and this saves a lot of time and energy.