Years ago, if you were to ask a farmer about flying drones around their farm, they would have thought you were crazy. Today, the prospect is not only possible, but it is considered normal practice. UAS Magazine reported in 2018 that of the farmers using drones, up to 84% in the United States use them weekly, if not daily.
The agriculture market is one of the fastest-growing with regard to the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). They are becoming an integral part of being informed on your fields and managing them efficiently.
In this article, we’re going to cover three of the many benefits of using drones in your agriculture business.
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1. Crop Scouting
Timely detection and intervention
One of the best aspects of deploying drones on your fields is the crop data you can gather. This allows you to measure plant health, identify crop stress, and react quickly. Timing is everything in the agriculture world, especially when it comes to invasive species, parasites, or fungi.
Growers using UAVs can quickly assess the areas affected and act accordingly. For instance, if a grower finds an area of their wheat field affected by leaf rust, they can plan a fungicide application to minimize yield loss.
Plant Health Algorithms
Drones detect plant health much like the human eye from the ground: through color. Having an aerial view allows the associated software to create field maps. In addition, drones benefit from being able to see near-infrared light put off by plants, something invisible to human eyes.
There are two popular algorithms used in drone software: NDVI and VARI
- Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI): Using red and near-infrared light this algorithm calculates a vegetation index value. By design, it spots differences in green canopy area. Its typical use is to determine chlorophyll content in crops such as corn, alfalfa, soybean, and wheat.
- Visual Atmospheric Resistance Index (VARI): This algorithm functions in much the same way as NDVI, except this one, was originally designed for satellite imagery. Because of this, it factors in blue light waves and is least affected by atmospheric conditions.
2. A New Perspective on Your Fields
See Plant Count and Stand Establishment
There are few things that feel worse than your crop not emerging as expected. And from the ground, the best you can do is make an educated guess as for a plan of action. With a drone map, you can identify issues quickly allowing you to plan and execute solutions.
Apps integrated with drones allow you to see:
- Stand count
- Plant Population
- Weed, pest, and disease analysis
- Irrigation/drainage stress analysis
3. Advanced Crop Management
Data-Based Field Solutions
Drones allow you to see issues arise and quickly react, but they also can provide long-term data that will allow you to enhance your crop management.
- Year-to-Year Perspective:
Organizing your drone images by date and location allows you to see year-to-year improvements in each field.
- Integrate with Other Softwares:
If you already use software like SMS or John Deere Operations Center, drone maps including elevation and field boundaries can keep them updated to make planning even easier.
- Variable Rate Prescriptions: Nitrogen and Pesticides:
Soil samples paired with drone maps allow for highly accurate nutrient regimens.