Using a drone in Agriculture is like being able to see your field from a 10,000-foot altitude, but also being able to zoom in to two inches above the plants. Growers are increasingly discovering that drone mapping is an invaluable tool, both for its ease of use and for its many applications on the farm.
With the growing season fast approaching, we’ve put together a list of some of our most popular ways growers are using drones to improve their processes and make informed decisions about their crops.
Field Survey / Boundary Mapping
Having an aerial map can give you a big picture view of your fields that you can’t obtain on the ground. There are abilities to get aerial views from services like google maps or other satellite services which are great to use but may not give you the current view that is needed. Drone mapping can give you up to date maps for planning. Some maps can be flown and viewed from the fields edge immediately following the flight for time critical views.
Maybe you need to view the field for any layout changes, planting planning, evaluate tree lines and field entry points for cleanup, a current field map can do that for you. Precision boundaries can also be determined by using a current map. Boundary lines with RTK sub centimeter accuracy can be created for field boundaries, field subdividing, precision planting applications, that can be exported to your devices for use in your equipment. These boundaries also aid us in using our Drone Spraying / Spreading equipment for precision use and in field and edge obstruction avoidance.
Slope and Drainage Assessment
Although this year’s growing season is just beginning, it’s never too early to look ahead. Once harvest is done and post-season field prep is complete, you’re essentially left with a blank canvas. Why not produce a map of your land in this state?
You can use a drone-generated elevation map to get a sense of the slope and drainage of a field then plan the cut and fill of future terraces and waterways.
You can also compare drainage maps to yield maps to evaluate any effectiveness of existing drain tiles or terrain changes. This will help with decisions on whether to invest in field drainage changes.
Stand Counts / Establishment
One of the most exciting uses for drone mapping in agriculture is the ability to conduct complete, accurate plant counts. Instead of relying on time-consuming manual counts taken from just a small portion of a field, growers are using drones to compile automated plant counts of entire fields in a matter of minutes.
Easily identify areas of good, moderate, and poor emergence with summarized population scores, gap counts, and annotated images. Once your data has processed you will receive a Stand / Establishment report to be able to make replant decisions quickly if needed.
Drones can be fitted with different types of cameras like RGB, multispectral, and thermal cameras that will allow farmers to gain access to different forms of data.
In the agriculture industry, there are so many things to do in the field. All these are not possible by man to do physical visits without the help of others. But now, it is hard to find the perfect person to inspect croplands.
Now drones can perform many tasks such as checking the health of plants, inspecting for crop damage and diseases, and many more. These features make farm management decisions easy for the farmer. The drone will help you observe all your land very closely with its strong sensor and camera, and you will take steps based on the situation.
Variable Rate Maps
Growers can export their drone-generated, zoned shapefiles into Ag industry software to easily generate variable rate prescriptions for nitrogen, pesticides and other applications. Variable Rate Maps can be created based on health maps, slope maps, soil analysis maps, etc.
Using these variable rate shape files growers could further increase site-specific application of any and all products rather than flat rate applying the entire field at the exact same rate. This can result in input cost reduction as well as yield increases by only applying inputs to where they are needed.
Damage / Insurance Assessment
As every grower knows, crop loss due to weather or pests is always a possibility — and that’s why many choose to insure their crops. But because insurance adjustors only have time to walk small sections of a damaged field, gaining an accurate picture of the loss can be difficult.
Drone maps can be used to assess damage. A damage map is a good tool to view the extent of the damage and document losses. This documentation can be used for verifiable proof for insurance purposes.
As every grower knows, crop loss is always a possibility — and that’s why many choose to insure their crops. But because insurance adjustors only have time to walk small sections of a damaged field, gaining an accurate picture of the loss can be difficult.
Regardless of the crop or region, growers who integrate drone maps into their work quickly realize that they are easy to use and offer many possibilities. This coming season, growers will continue to use drone mapping to make life on the farm more streamlined, efficient and informed.