An agricultural drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle applied to farming in order to help increase crop production and monitor crop growth. Through the use of advanced sensors and digital imaging capabilities, farmers are able to use these drones to help them gather a richer picture of their fields. Information gathered from such equipment may prove useful in improving crop yields and farm efficiency.
Agricultural drones let farmers see their fields from the sky. This bird’s-eye view can reveal many issues such as irrigation problems, soil variation, and pest and fungal infestations. Multispectral images show a near-infrared view as well as a visual spectrum view. The combination shows the farmer the differences between healthy and unhealthy plants, a difference not always clearly visible to the naked eye. Thus, these views can assist in assessing crop growth and production.
Additionally, the drone can survey the crops for the farmer periodically to their liking. Weekly, daily, or even hourly, pictures can show the changes in the crops over time, thus showing possible “trouble spots”. Having identified these trouble spots, the farmer can attempt to improve crop management and production.
Pesticide spraying by aircraft was widely done, and many dedicated agricultural machines were manufactured. Especially spraying of pesticides and fertilizers is easy to program because it is simple even in general aviation that it fly within a certain range, development of the drone has been in progress for a long time.
Since the late 1980’s, remotely operated unmanned aerial vehicles such as radio controlled helicopters began to be introduced in the field of agriculture for applications such as control. Since the 1990 ‘s, remote control type has become widespread, autonomous unmanned aircraft by multicopter is being introduced to agriculture experimentally due to technical innovation from 2010 onwards. It is known that there is a correlation between the reflection coefficient by wavelength of agricultural crops and the growth situation. Up to now, in order to grasp the growth situation of crops, it is necessary to use a chlorophyll meter (SPAD) We measured the color by pinching one sheet, we were looking at the growing situation, but it takes time and labor and it is only a part of measurements so we collect data on the growth of crops by installing a multi-wavelength camera so that it can be used for agricultural unmanned aerial vehicles Has also been developed. Up to now, satellite photographs have been used for similar applications, but by using unmanned aerial vehicles with a small turning point, it is expected that more accurate information can be obtained in the field more easily.
Remote control type
It must be monitored by the operator at all times as a result of remote control such as radio.
It flies autonomously with a navigation device such as a global positioning system.
Fixed wing type
It is suitable for covering a vast area, but catapult and runway are necessary when it is not a vertical take-off and landing aircraft
Rotary wing type
It is possible to take off and landing vertically and it is possible to stop in the air, but the speed is inferior to the fixed wing aircraft.
Typical applications of agricultural unmanned aerial vehicles
Monitoring the growth situation
As drones entered use in agriculture, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) encouraged farmers to use this new technology to monitor their fields. However, with the unexpected boom of agricultural drones, the FAA quickly retracted such encouragement, pending new rules and regulations. With incidents such as drones crashing into crop dusters, it was vital for the FAA and the AFBF (American Farm Bureau Federation) to agree on regulations that would allow the beneficial use of such drones in a safe and efficient manner. Although the American Farm Bureau Federation would like small adjustments to some of the restrictions that have been implemented, they are happy that the agricultural industry can actually use this new machinery without the worry of facing any legal issues.
Security and ethics
While there are many ways to improve crop growth through the use of agricultural drones, there is also a question of security. Farmers can use drones to monitor and record their crop, but what if an another company started flying their drones in unregulated areas to survey their competition? Such a scenario could lead to compromising vital company secrets. People want to know that they are safe and protected, so the burden doesn’t just fall on the farmer, but on many of those around the farmer, too.
The use of agricultural drones has ethical and social implications. One benefit is that they are able to monitor and control the use of pesticides properly. This allows minimizing the environmental impact of pesticides. However, drones don’t need access authority to flying overs someone’s property at under 400 feet (130 m) altitude. They may have microphones and cameras attached, and the resulting concern for potential privacy violation has caused some opposition towards drones.
There is a lot of room for growth with agricultural drones. With technology constantly improving, imaging of the crops will need to improve as well. With the data that drones record from the crops the farmers are able to analyze their crops and make educated decisions on how to proceed given the accurate crop information. Software programs for analyzing and correcting crop production have the potential to grow in this market. Close your eyes and imagine a farmer being able to fly a drone over their crops, be able to accurately identify an issue in a specific area, and then take the necessary actions in order to resolve the problem. Having this capability allows the farmer to, in turn, have more time to focus on the big picture of production instead of spending time surveying their crops. The drones allow for real time data to be delivered back to the user to be inspected, which for a farmer, is a huge game changer.
Representative manufacturing companies
Yamaha Motor – From 1980’s to develop and sell remote controlled radio controlled helicopter.
DJI – Developed AGRAS MG-1 capable of scattering up to 10 L of pesticides
Source from Wikipedia