Agriculture is one of the fastest growing markets in the commercial drone industry today. Technology is changing at a radical and continuous rate in agriculture as much as in any sector. Drones are quickly becoming an indispensable tool to help farmers become more efficient in the field, and make more informed crop management decisions.
In the South African agriculture sector, drones are not yet as fully utilized as in other countries like Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, USA, Spain and Russia. In these countries, drones are used mainly in crop farming, although the opportunities for use on livestock, wine, fruit, vegetables and solar farms are endless.
Today’s drone solutions let farmers detect crop health issues in real time, accurately assess losses after a major weather event, and even generate variable rate prescriptions that can save some serious cash buy limiting labor and resources.
Drones present vast opportunities when it comes to the irrigation side of agriculture, allowing for irrigation systems to be accurately planned and monitored. If a standard camera and infrared camera combination is used, leakages and faulty applications can quickly be identified and corrected. It is also easy to determine and adjust optimum irrigation time by monitoring the temperature of the plants.
Drones have a number of uses on livestock farms. Specific software is available that can identify and count animals. Drones with infrared cameras can give an indication of animal health by monitoring animals temperature and timeously informing the producer of any changes in health status.
Various companies market drones for security purposes. The drones are installed outside the house and are controlled from inside. In this way, a farmer can easily inspect the yard/property without having to leave the house if suspicious behavior is observed.
Drones also have another interesting use: to inspect solar panels for dead or damaged cells. The difference in temperature is immediately noticeable if an infrared camera is used and the necessary attention can be given quickly to the specific panel.
In the world of agriculture, timing is everything. Diseases and invasive species spread fast, but in the days – and in some cases weeks – it takes to schedule and process imagery taken from a manned aircraft or satellite, what begin as a small problem can spread to something much larger.
Drones, on the other hand, give you a high-resolution map of your field in a matter of minutes. Powerful plant health tools, allow you to visualize issues and make decisions on the spot. No more guesswork or costly waiting periods. Just actionable data on plant health and crop stress in real time.
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