Why use a Drone?

Why would farmers – some of the most risk-averse people on earth – adopt such a new technology? Perhaps it’s because agriculture drones offer clear advantages over other crop monitoring methods including satellite imaging, manned scouting and manned aircraft.

These advantages include:

Cheaper Imaging

Drones are considerably less expensive than satellites or manned aircraft surveillance.

Greater Precision

Drone cameras take centimeter-level images that reveal much more detail about a crop’s condition.

Earlier Detection of Problems

Because drones survey more frequently, weeds, pests and other abnormalities are detected earlier.

Total-Field Scouting

Instead of riding around the perimeter to scout perhaps 5% of a field, now every field can be scouted 100% using drones.

3D / Volumetric Data

Drone images can be used to calculate the volume of piles, holes, hills and patches. These can be compared to Infrared images to detect density issues like hot spots in a crowded beet field, or to identify contour problems such as slope shade issues.

More Frequent Index Reporting

Drones offer a cost-effective way to monitor crops more frequently for key indices like CCCI (Canopy Chlorophyl Content Index), CWSI (Crop Water Stress Index) and NDVI.

In day-to-day operations, these advantages help farmers catch problems faster and react more quickly, which can save thousands of Rands in crop losses per field. Long-term, the data generated by drones help farmers gain a more accurate and detailed picture of how their crops are reacting to their management strategies, which can lead to more effective use of limited resources.

 

After all, a typical family farmer only gets 40 chances (seasons) to get things right… every extra bit of knowledge helps!