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Benefits Of Drones In Agriculture

Benefits Of Drones In Agriculture

The benefits of drones in agriculture are numerous, it is one of the technologies that is driving precision agriculture. Precision agriculture is the science of improving efficiency, productivity, crop yield and profitability through the use of technology. According to analysts, drones in agriculture will be worth a massive $5 billion by the end of 2025.

Drones are a powerful tool for farmers and agronomists to assess the health of their crops. With the use of drones, they can get an overview of their fields and collect data much faster and more efficiently than with traditional methods. Drones will allow farmers to see how healthy their plants are, where they might need water or nutrients, and if there is any pest activity before it gets out of control.

Drones help farmers save money by enabling them to quickly identify problems that may have been missed without the use of a drone. The wrong approach could lead to hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of lost crops due to issues that were not caught early enough on the ground.

Uses Of Drones In Agriculture

Drones use in agriculture forms part of an emerging trend to use advanced technologies in farming operations that allow farmers to optimise their workflow and use resources more efficiently.

Drones have a wide range of uses in agriculture, however, their main uses are in acquiring highly detailed data through the use of different sensors. This data can then be turned into different types of maps and 3D models of the area, these maps can then be used to analyse crop health, detect disease and stress in plants and identify irrigation problems.

Another emerging use of drones is in spraying chemicals to fight disease and pests as well as spreading mulch and planting seeds.

Benefits of Using Drones In Agriculture

1. Improved Crop Health Monitoring

Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors can capture detailed images of crops, allowing farmers to detect any signs of stress or disease early on. These images can be processed using machine learning algorithms to identify specific issues, such as nutrient deficiencies or pest infestations. By detecting these problems early on, farmers can take action quickly and efficiently, minimizing crop loss and improving overall crop health.

2. Increased Efficiency

Drones can cover large areas of land quickly, making it easier for farmers to monitor and manage their crops. This saves time and reduces labour costs. For example, a drone can cover several hectares of land in just a few hours, whereas it may take a farmer several days to cover the same area on foot or by vehicle. Drones can also fly over areas that are difficult or dangerous for humans to access, such as steep slopes or flooded fields.

3. Precision Application of Inputs

Drones can be equipped with spraying equipment that can precisely apply fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to crops. This allows farmers to apply the correct amount of inputs exactly where they are needed, reducing the amount of chemicals used and minimizing waste. Precision application of inputs also reduces the risk of chemical runoff, which can pollute nearby water sources and harm wildlife.

4. Reduced Environmental Impact

Precision application of inputs using drones reduces the amount of chemicals that are released into the environment, decreasing the risk of pollution and environmental damage. By using drones, farmers can apply inputs more accurately and in smaller quantities, reducing the overall amount of chemicals used. This can help to protect soil health, reduce the risk of water pollution, and minimize the impact on nearby ecosystems.

5. Cost Savings

Drones can help farmers identify areas of their fields that require more attention, allowing them to focus their resources where they are needed most. For example, suppose a drone detects an area of a field that is suffering from nutrient deficiencies. In that case, the farmer can specifically apply fertilizer to that area rather than apply it across the entire field. This can result in cost savings on inputs and increased yields. Additionally, by using drones to monitor crops, farmers can identify potential issues before they become serious problems, reducing the risk of crop loss and saving money in the long run.

6. Safer Way To Spray Crops

Pests and plant disease are always going to be an issue for farmers; spraying chemicals manually will always pose a health hazard and is very time-consuming and labour-intensive. Using drones to treat infected plants is much safer and more efficient than manual labour and using land-based machinery. Smart drones also come with autonomous flight modes, this will allow farmers to plan flight paths only around areas that need to be treated and leave the healthy parts of the field free from unnecessary chemicals. Not only is this a safer way to treat crops but farmers will also save money by not wasting treatment on plants that don’t need it.

Types Of Drones Used In Agriculture

Drones for agricultural use come in two types, fixed wing and multi-copter drones. Fixed-wing drones are more robust, they can withstand harsh weather conditions and usually have a longer flight time than multi-copter drones. However, fixed-wing drones are more expensive, and their design requires them to have a large area to take-off and land.

Multi-copter drones are far more versatile, are easier to fly and are a lot cheaper than fixed-wing drones. Not only can multi-copter drones be used for photogrammetry, but their design also allows them to be used for precision spraying of pesticides, fertilisers and even seeding.

The following are drones suitable to use for mapping and generating 3D surface areas for agricultural use.

DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral

The DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral drone is a powerful tool for farmers and agronomists. The multispectral sensor allows you to gather information about the health of crops, measure nutrient levels, detect soil moisture, and more.

The DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral drone will be able to help farmers more accurately assess crop health and monitor plant development. The DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral Drone can capture images in multiple spectral bands, including visible and near-infrared light, which are typically filtered out by traditional cameras that only collect red, green, and blue wavelengths.

This camera is said to provide a much clearer picture of crops, Farmers will now be able to use this technology for tasks such as assessing plant stress or spotting insect infestations early on so they can make adjustments in the growing process accordingly.

DJI Phantom 4 RTK

The DJI Phantom 4 RTK is a drone that uses Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) technology. This form of positioning allows it to be used for precision agriculture and mapping applications. The drone can fly up to 30 minutes, has an operating range of up to 7 kilometers, and captures images at 20MP. It’s a great drone for mapping and 3D modelling of farmland and can provide centimeter level accuracy which will help in plant counting, measuring crop height and density and inspecting crop health.

DJI Matrice 300 RTK

The Matrice 300 RTK is suitable for many industries thanks to its multiple payload capacity and RTK system which allows users to capture highly-detailed images for accurate maps and 3D models. It has advanced AI capabilities 6-directional obstacle sensing and avoidance, advanced health management system, an industry leading flight time of 55 minutes and a robust design that allows it to be flown in harsh weather conditions. AS the drone has an exceptionally long flight time, its suitable for mapping large farms and with its multiple payload capabilities including ones from third party manufacturers, users will be able to capture images for orthomosaic, thermal and multispectral maps.

SenseFly eBee AG

One of the leading fixed-wing drones designed specifically for mapping farmland, the eBee AG is very similar to the eBee X, which is SenseFly’s leading all-round drone. The eBee AG has a flight time of around 45 minutes and can cover over 300 acres of land in one single flight. It comes with a dual-camera system that compromises an RGB and multi-spectral camera. The RGB camera can capture high-quality images that can be turned into accurate centimetre level orthomosaic maps thanks to its RTK system. Multi-spectral cameras capture image data under different wave lengths that will highlight any issues with crops and indicate if there are any pest infestation, disease or irrigation problems.

SenseFly eBee X

This is Sensefly’s flagship drone, its suitable for many industries including agriculture as it is compatible with a range of cameras. It has a robust design that makes it suitable for use in many situations and thanks to its PPK/RTK system, it can provide aerial images with survey-grade accuracy. It has a flight time of 59 minutes, which can be extended to 90 minutes that will allow users to cover around 500 hectares of land.


This is a hybrid drone that takes the best of both fixed-wing and multi-copter drones, it has a fixed-wing design but comes with vertical take-off and landing capability (VTOL) similar to that of a multi-copter drone. With a flight time of 55 minutes, this drone can map hundreds of acres of land with sub-centimetre level accuracy, making it one of the best mapping drones on the market.

The following is a small selection of crop spraying drones.

DJI Agras T30

The DJI Agras T30 is one of the newest crop spraying drones that is suitable for all types of agricultural spraying needs, It boasts a huge 30 litre tank, a robust design that can be flown in harsh weather conditions thanks to its IP67 rating and can cover around 40 acres in one hour. It comes with an optimised plunger that can pump out 8 litters per minute and comes with 16 nozzles that have a spray range of 9 meters. The drone has a front and back FPV camera for improved visibility and it has an advanced spherical radar system for safer flying.

DJI Agras T20

This is an agricultural drone designed for crop spraying. It has a 20L capacity and has a maximum flight time of 15 minutes (depending on the load). It can cover 12 hectares in one hour and comes with an optimised spraying system and comes with 8 nozzles that have a spray width of 7 meters. The drone can be used for spraying, fertilising even seeding. It built to fly in harsh weather conditions and can be flown in both day and night and has an advanced obstacle avoidance system for safer flying. The drone has a built-in RTK system and along with the RTK dongle on the remote controller, farmers will be able to set its autonomous flight modes within centimetre level accuracy so that it only fly’s and sprays over necessary areas.

DJI Agras T16

This is similar to the T20 but has a 16 litre payload capacity, it can cover 10 hectares in one hour and comes with RTK GNSS technology and an advanced obstacle avoidance system.

There are a couple of other crop sparing drones manufactured by DJI, but they are only available through certified resellers. These drones are the DJI Agras MG-1P and MG-1S, they have a payload capacity of 10 litres, come with autonomous flight modes and have an obstacle avoidance system.

Final Thoughts

The agriculture industry is using precision or smart farming methods to find innovative ways to increase their yield, reduce expenses and improve the health of crops. Drones are a fast way to map out fields easily without having to use manned aircraft or land-based equipment like rovers and laser scanners which is time-consuming and not very efficient. Drones are having a positive impact on farming and this trend is likely to continue as drone technology is utilised more and more in the agricultural industry.


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