What roles do Drones play in Crop monitoring?

Crop monitoring is becoming an increasing need in the farming community for a number of different reasons. Primarily for small and medium sized farmers, which for the most part have no instrumentation and no real way to quantify the quality of their product.

This is an area where there is a lot of opportunity for the small and medium sized farmers to improve their profitability and sustainability as a farming community and ultimately improve the quality of their product. For a large expanse of land, using the traditional method to monitor crops can be difficult and time consuming, thereby leaving window opportunities for insects and other pests to develop. 

Walking through the fields to survey the crops is not only time consuming, but what the farmers sees, may not always be the whole picture, this is where drones come in. Using agricultural drones, a small computer controlled aircraft fitted with cameras to give farmers comprehensive information about their crops.

These drones fly autonomously, it can take around 2000 picture for about 300 hectares, the software that is used to run it, overlaps these images into a high resolution map of the health of the field, using the reflectance of the individual plant i.e. how well all the plants are reflecting the light from the sun. 

Healthy crops absorb visible light and reflect near infra-red light, which is a part of the process of photosynthesis. The cameras on the drone measures this amount of reflection, so as to help the farmer detect which crops are healthy and which aren’t. The green areas shows the areas that are healthiest in the field, the red areas indicate drainage problem, pest infestation or something serious, the yellow and orange indicates troubles that the human eye can’t see yet they could appear healthy, this may be an indication of the beginning stage of some kind of unhealthiness.

This high resolution map gives the farmer an early warning that allows him to scout and stop the problem before they grow or even begin.

Scouting: this is the process of taking soil and plant tissue samples for monitoring field health. Using data from the drone, one can pinpoint exactly where to sample, basically meaning you don’t have to soil sample and tissue sample the entire field. Only the areas that has been indicated to be under stress/struggling.

After collecting the samples, they are sent out for analysis, the farmer can then use the information obtained to make important potential money saving decisions about their crops, like when and where to apply fertilizer/pesticides or how to manage water.

In order to ensure the survival of your farm business, you have to be able to adapt to change, embrace new technology and the role it plays in both feeding a growing population and keeping the farm in the family. This cutting edge technology helps farmers to be more efficient and cost effective. 

To farm sustainably while still maximizing productivity and managing input cost, farmers need more information on their crops more than ever. For this they turn to trusted crop advisers to get the most out of their land. For crop advisers, finding a reliable source of high quality, affordable information to help the farmers can be difficult.

For comprehensive regular coverage of large agricultural areas, satellite imagery solutions come to mind. This is why Beat Drone has partnered with Agronomicsexchange, granting us access to the Earth Observatory Satellite for crop monitoring. We can now provide our services as crop advisers, any day, at any time, giving our farmers real-time information on their crop vegetation condition; chlorophyll, nitrogen, weed level and irrigation needs all at once. 


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