Drones were originally designed for military use. Originally, they were used as weapons, in the form of remotely-guided aerial missile launchers. Drones are being used for a variety of civilian purposes, including monitoring climate change, transporting goods, assisting in search and rescue operations, as well as videography, photography, and now agriculture. In technical terms, a drone is an unmanned aircraft, a flying robot that can be controlled remotely using software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS, this simply means that, drones are aircraft that are used for capturing sight from a distance above the ground level, it is a form of technology that gives a comprehensive view of events or activities and can also perform various tasks programmed or instructed by the operator to do while flying in the air, however, it does not require a pilot like every other aircraft.
In farming initially, drones were used for chemical spraying but today drones are a great tool for capturing aerial imagery with platform-mounted cameras and sensors. Images can range from simple visible-light photographs to multi-spectral imagery that can be used to assess different activities. Drones offer increased efficiency which allows users to capture high-resolution imagery more quickly than alternative methods particularly in volatile conditions, estimating annual yield which can guide decision-making and manage expectations and perform activities that may not be easy carrying out on foot.
Talking about drone technology in sustainable agriculture, first it will be best to know what sustainable agriculture means. Sustainable agriculture can be defined in many ways, but ultimately it seeks to sustain farmers, resources, and communities by promoting farming practices and methods that are profitable, environmentally sound, and good for communities.
Over the years there have been many factors affecting the sustainable agricultural goals from being actualized and these ranges from inadequate or inappropriate policies which include pricing, subsidy, and tax policies which have encouraged the excessive, and often uneconomic use of inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides but with the advent of drone technology, sustainable agriculture can now be achieved much easier.
The functions of drone technology in sustainable agriculture are discussed below.
Crop Spraying Applications
Crop spraying has been a difficult and time-consuming task for farmers and agricultural production companies for centuries. Crop spraying entails thoroughly covering extremely large areas of land to ensure proper crop growth. Crop spraying is not only a laborious task, but it also involves the use of many harsh chemicals that can endanger human health if exposed to them for an extended period. Drone technology is a much safer alternative, incorporating ultrasonic, light detection, and grounding lasers that provide enormous relief to farmers by allowing them to spray crops five times faster than traditional crop spraying methods. Using cutting-edge topographical scanning, agricultural drones dispense the optimal amount of fluid to ensure even coverage for proper crop growth without unnecessary waste.
Irrigation is necessary to avoid the dry circumstances that inevitably lead to crop death. Drone technology uses a variety of sensors, including thermal, multi-spectral varieties, to analyze and pinpoint the specific crops that are dehydrated, as well as measuring the density, heat signature, and overall health of the field as a whole to give farmers and producers a complete picture.
Crop monitoring is a continuous process that is essential to the achievement of healthy and robust yields. Due to the difficulty of traversing wide swathes of land on foot, crop observation was a difficult task for farmers and producers in the past. Inclement weather conditions, which can make it impossible to check on crops, the difficulty of monitoring crops and fields. Today's drone technology allows agricultural producers to monitor crops in a cost-effective and risk-free manner using precision photography. Any problematic crop regions or places in need of improvement are readily visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Assessment of Crop Health
A crucial component of agricultural operations is assessing the overall health of crops and fields. Not only will health assessments record dried, dead crops, but they will also conduct vital fungal and bacterial analyses on trees, crops, fields, and other areas. Agricultural drones use visible and infrared light sources to identify plants that reflect the forms of light that signify disease or other health problems. As a result, agricultural producers are turning to drones to get real-time imagery of their fields to avoid costly losses and ensure the overall growth and success of their crops.
Crop planting is a time-consuming and expensive task that has traditionally relied on humans. Today's high-end drone farming technology allows for drone-powered planting techniques that can save up to 85% on planting expenditures. The drone's capacity to conduct a variety of tasks, including planting within the soil, injecting seeds into pods, and generating plants and commodities that are ready to develop and utilize, has resulted in a significant reduction in planting expenses.
Analyses of Fields and Soil
Soil and field analyses are critical to crop success and should be done at the start of planting, throughout growth, and near the conclusion of harvest. Drones are critical in today's agricultural industry because they give real-time, three-dimensional, and ultra-precise studies that measure overall soil health, planting patterns, and eventually provide important data for optimal irrigation and nitrogen needs. Drone aircraft are utilized in all aspects of agriculture, from performing critical analyses and scans to discover bacteria, fungi, problem regions that require irrigation, and much more.
Drone security is a fast growing industry apart from agriculture but is also extremely useful to farm management. Using drones to monitor the far reaches of a farm without having to get there saves valuable time and allows for more frequent monitoring of hard to reach areas. Drone cameras can provide an overview of farm operations throughout the day to ensure operations are running smoothly and to locate equipment being used. Security drones can be deployed to monitor fencing and perimeters of more valuable crops instead of employing more security personnel. Drone cameras are also being used in exciting ways to protect farm animals by locating missing or injured herd animals in far off grazing areas. Monitoring remote areas, which used to take hours of walking can now be completed in a few minutes.
Drones have already vastly altered the agricultural industry and will continue to grow in the coming years. While drone use is becoming more useful to small farmers,there are still ways to go before they become part of every farmer’s equipment roster, particularly in developing nations. Regulations around drone use need to be made and revised in many countries and more research needs to be done on their effectiveness at certain tasks, such as pesticide application and spraying. There are many ways drones can be useful to farmers but it is important to understand their limitations and functions before investing in this equipment.
Drone technology in Farming [Retrieved from mydroneservices.com on 21st,Setptember 2021]