FarmTech: Application of Drones

June 6, 2019

Drones have a wide application in covering large fields for monitoring and spraying – inadequate fertiliser application can reduce crop yield by 15-20%. Companies are selling drones purpose-made for farm work. DJI has a drone for spraying crops with fertilisers or pesticides: it is an 8-bladed copter drone with an attached 10 kg liquid tank payload. DJI claims it can autonomously spray an area of 4000-6000 m2 in 10 minutes, which is 40 to 60 times quicker than manual methods. It allows precise control with settings choices that allow the user to decide on spraying speed, height and drone speed.

Multispectral imaging enables farmers to control crops, soil, irrigation and fertilisation with increased efficiency.

Simon Sherrington, MD

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Drones are also finding use as eyes in the sky helping farmers gain insight into crop growth and about microclimates within individual fields. Multispectral imaging enables farmers to control crops, soil, irrigation and fertilisation with increased efficiency. The premise is that different internal components of plants such as chlorophyll or beta-carotene reflect light differently enabling easy identification of specific issues that would affect those readings. Using data from the images captured by drones equipped with hyperspectral cameras and through specialised software farmers can see pest activity and plant disease and then act with an appropriate pesticide regime; estimate crop yield; identify areas lacking nutrition and act with appropriate amounts of fertiliser; survey fences; report on microclimates and monitor livestock.

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