I have had an interest in aerospace and drones for a while now, upon hearing that there are drones specifically made and engineered for Ag and field use, i was incredibly intrigued. There are UAVs (Unmanned aerial Vehicle) specifically made for observation with thermal and 4k cameras attached, some even with an oculus rift compatibility, and ag drones made for crop spraying.
Drones are capable of spraying a field carrying a storage container of chemicals. A drone can spray 40-60 times faster than manual spraying. A drone can spray 6-10 acres within an hour. Although there are multiple models, they typical are able to hold 10-20 liters of chemicals. Ag drones can also be used for monitoring a field at a much faster and much more efficient than a farmer can do manually. A drone can operate in different types of weather and temperatures, from -10 degrees to 90 degrees without malfunction. A drone can detect what areas of a farm need more or less water with thermal technology, identify the health status of your field, and locate diseases in your crops. Drones can be programmed to fly in a specific flight pattern and can typically land by itself for ease of use. An Agriculture drone can also monitor the health of a field, checking and monitoring the growth and spread of different plant diseases. Drones are capable of using thermal technology, lighting, using the different light reactions from the plants to identify the different diseases and what stage they are at. The advantage of using a drone to identify this problem is the fact that it is a lot faster and easier with a drone and the faster you find out about and eliminate a problem might save a whole orchard.
Drones are much more efficient than manually doing observations, spraying, and assessing the overall health of your field. It can cover more ground a lot quicker with picture and video capabilities. Most modern day drones are compatible with current apps you probably already have and operate such as; John deere operations center, climate field view, Ag leader SMS, SST Software, ect. With a flight time of just under an hour, a farmer is capable of surveying his/her field with great speed and efficiency. A drone can survey about 300 acres per flight, but farmers can get extra batteries and chargers to get back up in the air quicker. Using drones makes observation much quicker and more thorough than driving around the perimeter of your field or trying to walk hundreds or thousands of acres. A drone gives an aerial view of your land, offering a much different perspective than you would normally get on foot. By taking thousands of pictures and mapping the coordinates of every picture, you'll be able to pull up a full view of your map or specific sections of your field on a tablet or computer, making your observations simple and easy to access, as well as saving you hours of walking/driving. Another plus of using AG drones, is that they are still doing research on them and people are still improving and upgrading the technology, giving them better cameras, more flight time, more spray storage, ect. As more and more people begin using Ag drones, they will become more of the present day instead of a thing of the future. The HoneyCorp Ag Drone is one of the more popular UAV models, composed out of a kevlar fiber composite making it much more resistant to crashed and weather, this material prevents ripping and does not break apart like foam. Equipped with dual cameras, you will be able to capture images with two 20.2 NP NIR's that will clearly convoy the images and flight information back to the pilot. At a price of $10,000 - $25,000 per drone, you'll be making a worthy investment, especially for those of you that can't walk or run for as long as you used to be able to.
Although ag drones are great and efficient, there are still limitations on them. Such as legal issues. The majority if people do not trust drones, believing they will be used for other purposes such as spying and observing things they are not allowed or supposed to. Currently, the only entities allowed to use drones are educational institutions and municipalities which have obtained Certificates of Authorization to conduct research under specific conditions. Drone use is also permitted for recreational purposes without a certificate. And a tiny number of businesses can be granted exemptions under a section of the FAA's by laws.The federal Aviation Administration or, (FAA) has a rule in placed called, within line of sight. Meaning your drone isn't allowed to fly out of the pilots view. Must be five miles from airports without providing advanced notification to airport and air traffic control; Must yield right of way to manned aircraft at all times, keep aircraft in line of sight at all times, UAVs must be under 55 lbs, follow community-based safety guidelines, provide advanced notification to airports and air traffic control to fly drones within five miles of an airport, has to remain under 400 feet, may fly only during daytime, max speed at or below 100 mph, must always yield right of way to manned aircraft, cannot fly over humans, may not be flown from a moving vehicle.
In conclusion, Ag drones are capable of being a large addition the the Ag world. With UAVs capable of covering 300 acres of land in just an hour, with the ability of zooming in close enough to see individual rows of your crop as well as detect bacteria and illness in both crops and livestock, and drones capable of spraying a field, unmanned aerial vehicles have come a long wa and are still being developed and improved. Despite the legal issues and the public's fear, we can get around the issues and continue the expansion of Agricultural Drones.
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