In this article I will be presenting the 3 main applications of drones in agriculture; Drones for spraying liquids, Drones used for Soil and field analysis and Drones used for Crop Health Assessment.
I- Spraying liquids:
This technology was first implemented in Japan in the 1980s when unmanned helicopters equipped with spraying equipment and pesticides tanks were used to spray crop fields. Typical modern day spraying drones have tank capacity of over ten liters of liquid pesticide with discharge rate of over a liter a minute, allowing them to cover a hectare in ten minutes.
Spraying Drone provides real time observational technology to generate insights on water management, disease prevention and even warn you about potential problems and therefore provide you with healthier crops and bigger yields.
Drones can scan the ground and spray the correct amount of liquid, modulating distance from the ground and spraying in real time for even coverage. Reducing the time and labor of spraying a hectare from an average of 160 minutes to just about 10 minutes.
For example: A drone (MG-1 : 40-60 times faster than manual spraying of 10 kg liquid payloads covers 7-10Acres / Hour
Image source: http://dronesonvideo.com/top-agriculture-crop-spraying-drones/
Videos showing real examples of the spraying liquid drones in action:
List of brand and model of the drones used in the spraying liquids in agriculture:
• Drone Volt
• OPTim Agri
II- Soil and field analysis:
Drones can be instrumental at the start of the crop cycle. They produce precise 3-D maps for early soil analysis, useful in planning seed planting patterns. After planting, drone-driven soil analysis provides data for irrigation and nitrogen-level management.
The most compelling reason for using drones is that the results are on-demand; whenever and wherever needed, the drone can be easily and quickly deployed.
Fixed-wing drones: These drones have long-range flight capacity, an advantage when a large area is to be covered.
Multi-rotor drones: are faster to set up in the field and can take off and land vertically.
Types of cameras used for this analysis: RGB Cameras, Near Infrared (NIR) Cameras, Modified RGB and Multispectral Cameras..etc
Advantages: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) image, Advanced Plant Health Indices, Assess Field Performance, Field Water Pounding Mapping, Measure Nitrogen Content in Wheat, Weed Pressure Mapping.
A single, 20-minute flight captured 254 images to create the picture. The NDVI image, makes subtle variations very obvious and makes it much easier to create a fertilizer prescription.
NIR sensors and true NDVI are the most timely and accurate assessment for your crop health.
E.g: eBee SQ can capture multi-spectral and visual data on hundreds of acres of crops in a single flight.
Videos showing real examples of drones in action:
List of brand and model of the drones used in Soil and Field Analysis in agriculture:
Phantom 4 Pro
• Drone America
III- Crop Health Assessment:
Drones can also be used to generate multi spectral images of crops (based on the amounts of green and infrared light reflected), which are then analyzed to track changes in health and maturity.
It’s essential to assess crop health and spot bacterial or fungal infections on trees. By scanning a crop using aerial drone video and photography you can save time and money by protecting crops from the tell-tale signs of disease.
This assessment can be done using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) drone technology.
Seeing a crop from an aerial view can reveal patterns that expose everything from irrigation problems to soil variation, and even pest and fungal infestations that aren’t apparent at eye level.
Airborne cameras can take multi spectral images, capturing data from the infrared spectrum, which can be combined to create a view of the crop that highlights differences between healthy & stressed crops in a way that can’t be seen with the naked eye.
A drone can survey a crop every month, week, or even every day. Combined to create a time-series animation, these images can show changes in the crop, revealing troubled areas or opportunities for better crop management.
Videos showing real examples of drones used for crop health assessment:
List of brand and model of the drones used in Crop Health Assessment:
AGCO Edition UAV
DJI Inspire 1
References and documentation for drone applications in agriculture:
- http://cema-agri.org/sites/default/files/publications/Flyer_Q&A drones FFA 2016 FINAL.pdf