In the 21st century, one thing that is the most crucial factor for a business to succeed or fail is technology. We can’t deny the impact of technology, and it’s fast-paced progress in every industry, and to our surprise, there is now drone technology available for agricultural practices as well. This technology is exceptionally fruitful for farmers and agriculture service professionals who want to monitor their crops’ health from time to time.
Why choose drones ?
The basic principle for investing in drones is simple; they help you track your crops’ progress most efficiently and straightforwardly. The best agriculture drones come in two categories, fixed-wing, and multi-rotor. This investment works the best for direct agriculture business owners such as farmers who want to fly their imaging missions; and for indirect businesses such as agriculture service providers. It is essential to understand that agriculture service providers need it more than any other producer because this is their only contribution to the business. The execution has to be perfect. And other outsourcers who provide their services such as companies or individuals who fly drones for farmers.
The agricultural drone serves the best when activity strictly adheres to the commercial purposes for the intention of making a profit through drone operation. These requirements usually point out that the drone operator needs to have a remote pilot certificate for access to fly one of these drones; it is strictly illegal and dangerous. Following the legally correct method is a must, even if no money changes hands. To learn more about the drone pilot requirements, one must know about the drone operator safety guide. Furthermore, there exists nothing called an amateur agriculture drone operator; there is only a legally approved version of the manual that you need.
There can be fraud; as sellers might approach to sell you a drone and get pitched that a remote pilot certificate is not required to survey your field, kindly avoid them for your benefit and choose wisely.
Best agriculture drones 2020:
The best drone for spraying: DJI’s AGRAS MG-1S
The drone, specially made for the exclusive purpose of spraying on crops, is one of the newest options. Agra MG-1S drone has four dedicated nozzles located, which are typically under the motors. The placement of these nozzles gives an edge to the product, as this adds to the efficiency. There is also an advantage that industry-standard and ceramic nozzles can be swapped out if necessary for different spray requirements. Agras MG-1S costs approximately $15,000, and it is an octocopter (it has eight motors, arms, and propellers). The drone can fly and spray entirely on its own, it also gives you the option to plan your flight path. You can also tell it how much liquid you want to spray per area. From there, the drone can calculate the remaining parameters for you, and also allows you to set Efficient Mode or Intensive Spraying Mode, depending on your flight. Agra can carry 10kg of fluid to help in pesticide and herbicide delivery. It also covers 10 acres (4 hectares) in a single time, which DJI says is 60 times faster than manual spraying.
SenseFly eBee SQ Drone :
The purpose includes simplifying flying as eBee SQ includes their proprietary Motion Agriculture flight planning and ground station software. To launch a unique operation, the pilot only needs to establish the area to survey, set the image resolution, and define the desired image overlap. Then, the software generates an optimal flight plan.
It is accessible that anyone with little knowledge can get acquainted with the process; the steps are simple. Firstly, it requires you to upload your field boundaries from your existing FMIS system; or draw them on-screen.
eBee serves as the complete agriculture solution costing around $12000+. The drone is quite easy to fly. It comes with senseFLY’s Sequoia 5-spectrum sensor (4 spectral bands + visible/RGB) and advanced, flight planning, flight management, and image processing software designed correctly to work within a complete drone-to-tractor workflow.
Some of the information you can capture in a single eBee flight include:
- Vegetation indices (NDVI, CCCI, NDRE, MCARI, CWSI, et al.)
- Plant counts
- Soil H20 levels
- Soil temp
- Topography / 3D mapping (limited / no survey quality)
Drone for thermal imaging in agriculture: Matrice 210 with Zenmuse XT2
The camera of Matrice M210 and Zenmuse XT2, along with the drone, is compatible with DJI Pilot. By combining aerial infrared and visual cameras, farmers can see a view of crops that aren’t visible to the naked eye, better understand healthy vs. distressed plants, and allow for rapid action. Matrice is also an Android app designed for enterprise-users that will enable you to adjust flight modes, see on-screen temperature measurements, and it goes beyond normal operations.
The drone can be upgraded with DJI’s D-RTK GNSS system to allow for centimeter-level hovering accuracy. It’s also compatible with DJI’s SDK so users can control up to 5 aircraft simultaneously, making inspecting abundant farmland more efficient than previously possible.
The Matrice carries large payloads and cameras from multispectral to hyperspectral and full-frame or its own Zenmuse dual thermal camera.
PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5 Drone :
Lancaster costs around $25,000+ and comes with a specialty of being intelligent as well as aware. Precision Hawks’ In-flight monitoring and tracking software are the best part as it gives you real-time data on a flight path, position, altitude, aircraft performance, and battery life. Flight planning is also a reasonably simple task, it requires you just to select your ground resolution and target altitude. The Lancaster creates a flight plan automatically. Then, just toss the aircraft like a paper plane to begin your survey. It also has a sensor technology built on open-source software specifically designed to make the process easy for developers and integrate sensors for any need. When it comes to mapping and analysis, Lancaster 5 comes with Precision Hawk’s outstanding Data management, data mapper, and analysis solution. It is incredibly convenient as the process field data using algorithms and indexers available on the Data Mapper. Available as desktop software or through the cloud, Data Mapper produces accurate 2D and 3D maps into geo-referenced mosaics. A massive series of catalogs are available, including but not limited to Field Uniformity, Optimized Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (OSAVI), Plant height, and Plant count. The most critical catalog in Lancaster also includes Enhanced NDVI. Lancaster’s precisions make it the best product available. It is 300 acres per flight (300 ft. altitude), 5-channel multispectral camera open, One-button press to launch, and Data resolution down to 1 cm/pixel and is 5.3 lbs. Dry weight.
In addition to the mandatory downward-facing multispectral sensor, the Lancaster carries onboard sensors that measure humidity, temperature, air pressure along with incident light, all in real-time. It then uses artificial intelligence to react to changing weather conditions, payload, varying wind loads, visibility, etc. In the end, Lancaster works automatically.
The best drone for crop consulting: DJI MAVIC PRO 2
The DJI MAVIC PRO 2 proves to be the best in terms of comprehensiveness, it is a product for everything you need, at the lowest possible cost. It’s also the most straightforward use of all the drones in this guide, as it is ready to fly out of the box. For example, you simply need to survey your field for signs of stress or disease (you could otherwise do this from the ground by manually walking through your area, which can be labor-intensive processes, particularly as crops thicken). In that case, a lower-cost drone can do the job. DJI also offers a MAVIC PRO Enterprise version, which incorporates a FLIR dual imaging sensor, but if you’re just looking to get a general survey of your land, the Pro may likely be sufficient.
The best drone for agricultural mapping: The Delair UX11 Agriculture
Unlike the other drones, UX 11 is a fixed-wing drone, which means it is skilled in flying extended distances and stretched periods. The drone transmits a high-end multispectral camera for the same plant procedures. The Delair UX11 Ag is a plant mapping drone, agreeing with you to collect land aerial intelligence more accurately and efficiently. The drone is capable of onboard data dispensation and wireless and 3G/4G communications, consenting you to overlay maps for temporal investigation.
Delair drones costs start at approximately $13,000. Many users from Europe have a fascinating option with the Delair line of drones, as they can potentially see some significant savings by renting a drone through the rental program. UX 11 Delair allows you specific and skilled options and gives you an excellent operation plan.
In conclusion, all of these drones cater to different demographics, uses, and agriculture objectives. Kindly take into account that whenever the user needs to buy a drone, they should be clear about their requirements, affordability, and legality. There are many options available just a click away, but the main point of difference is which drone helps you in being efficient in saving time and money through yielding higher profits. Drones prove to be a source of saving time.