Farmers all around United States are using unmanned aerial devices, known as UAVs or drones, to keep a check on the intrusions of animals into their farms, to get an idea on how their crops are growing, for checking out if any kind of viruses have infected their crops and to keep a check on weeds.
At a recent agriculture show, farmers were educated on how drones and so called big data can ease their farming work. Farmers who are facing issues with crop infections and farming intrusions can send the collected data from drones to crop consultants, who with different scientific and innovative methods try to solve them.
The Minnesota Corn Growers association even gave away a quad-copter drone to three of the farmers who were eager to test the new technology, but were lagging a bit on economic note.
It’s very new,” said Jerry Johnson, chief executive of Farm Intelligence2, a developer of field-analysis software and two UAVs for farm use.
“There’s a lot of educating that is going on. Most people have basic questions like ‘How long does it fly?’ while some ask very sophisticated questions about the data collection and how it can resolve their current issues? And how will it work for them on investment part on long run?”
From the past two decades, the use of GPS and data sensors became standard in farming, a part of precision agriculture. Information was gathered by tractors during planting and the data was combined during harvesting. Farmers then studied the data to make planting decisions for the next season.
But if farmers take the help of drones, farmers can get images quickly and cheaply while crops grow. In case of a problem, the farmer can take action at the very instance.
On seeing business in this industry, companies offering drones to farmers are making them smaller, sleeker and generally simpler to use. They are also integrating with eco partners such as camera makers and data storage appliance makers, to offer the solution as a bundled package.
“Even though we’re using the same term, drone, it really is quite different,” says Brendan Schulman, a New York lawyer who has become a specialist on the evolving regulation of drones.
Farmers can use very simple quad-copters with digital cameras, which cost about $US500 ($A540), for a quick view of their fields. Other systems, ranging from $US2, 000 to about $US30, 000, come with near-infrared sensors to make images of moisture content and other characteristics. Such systems then download the information into software that guides tractors through fields. For the moment, most drones and data analysis are being provided by implement dealers, fertilizer suppliers and crop consultants.
“You can fly a quarter in 10 to 15 minutes,” said consultant Matt Rohlik, referring to 160 acres (64.75 hectares).
Rohlik added that one of his clients have used a drone, to determine how much of his crop was damaged due to incessant rains.
Also drones can help in determining how many plants are suffering from Nitrogen and phosphorous deficiency.
Bazakos and David Mulla, chief of the University of Minnesota’s precision agriculture center, are jointly researching the use of congregated from drones to maximize farm production.
Mulla estimates farmers can save $US10 to $US30 an acre (.40 hectares) acre in fertilizer and in related costs by examining the progress of crops while they are still in the ground.
This not only saves their investments, but also helps in getting better yields and finally profits.