Farming has always been about the legwork: walking down rows, going plant-by-plant to check for weeds, bugs, parched soil or any sign of distress.
Modern machinery, soil-testing, computers, and ground-based sensors have made crop monitoring and tending more efficient, but, lots still goes unnoticed. Inevitably, there is data that can’t be detected at scale, such as nitrogen deficiency or diminished photosynthesis, the chlorophyll-powered process that is crucial for a healthy plant.
Agriculture drones are a precise tool for field management to scout farm fields both quickly and efficiently. Rather than having growers evaluate fields manually on foot or by tractor for weeks, this technology allows farmers to gain immediate knowledge about the status of their fields in minutes.
More and more farmers are beginning to use drones to tend to their crops and are already using the small flying machines to spray fields with pesticides. By measuring near infrared wavelengths through a multispectral sensor, agriculture drones can also create vegetation index images, indicating which plants are healthy and absorbing maximum sunlight.
Fertilizer represents up to 50 percent of costs which is a major concern of farmers. Drones with infrafred sensors make maps that can show where phosphorous and nitrogen might be needed, or not. In this way, more nutrients are being applied where they are needed most.
Thermal cameras are able to detect well-watered field regions as well as dry patches. Farmers can use this data to adjust field irrigation and avoid wasting excess water. This ability to increase water optimization is particularly valuable in drought-stricken areas.
By increasing water and fertilizer efficiency, drone technology helps reduce excess fertilizer that runs off into nearby rivers and streams.
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