There used to be a lot of guesswork in agriculture: What will the weather conditions be like? What yield can be expected? Over the years, farmers have found innovative ways to answer these questions with new technologies. Agricultural drones are the next step in this process. They can be used for everything from precision farming and optimizing field management to efficient fertilizer spreading or weed control. Ultimately, this allows you to reduce operating costs, improve crop quality and increase yields.
Rapidly changing agriculture
Today’s agricultural operations look completely different than even a few decades ago. New technologies have enabled modern growers to optimize every part of their operations, from field spraying to crop cycles and crop health. Drones and other types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have played a big role in this transformation. With the help of agricultural drones, farmers get in-depth data analysis and task planning, as well as new tools that can do physical work.
Whether you are a private farmer or the head of a large organization, drone technology will help you achieve your goals and harvest more with less resources. The two main ways that the right UAV and payload can help are efficient crop spraying and field mapping.
Field spraying with UAV
DJI’s Agras range of spraying drones can help you accurately deliver the following to your farmland:
The effective use of the above drugs is a constant problem for any agricultural producer. If you spray too much concentrated product in one place, you will incur additional costs and possibly reduce the quality of the product. Too low a concentration leaves your crops vulnerable to weed overgrowth, malnutrition, or being eaten by insects and other predators, potentially reducing yield levels. Both problems are easily solved by the right agricultural drones and sprayers, which are able to distribute chemicals evenly and efficiently.
- The use of drones in this aspect will improve the quality of the crop and increase productivity without intensive manual labor. DJI drones can be used for almost any crop, including rice, wheat, corn, citrus, cotton, and more.
- In addition to the fact that drone spraying allows you to cover more areas at a lower cost, it can also bring significant benefits to the environment. Drones can distribute pesticides more efficiently, allowing less pesticide to be used to achieve the same overall effect. Among other things, UAV seeding can help you make the most of your land.
- As climate change and overall development are expected to reduce the total amount of land available for agriculture, efficient land management will be the key to achieving successful results in the coming years.
Using drones for data collection and precision farming
Smart spraying and seeding are not the only ways to improve overall farming efficiency, cut costs or increase yields. Drones can also be used to map the area and get new data, eliminating guesswork during the growing process.
One key to all of this is remote sensing technology, which picks up radiation on the ground and can track everything from physical characteristics to the amount of heat generated by an area. The best drones for agricultural mapping take this concept further with so-called multispectral imaging.
This means that they can capture both visible and invisible light sensors within a given range. The two main types of maps that can be created with such an agricultural drone include:
- RGB maps: A bird’s eye view, but even better – even a red-green-blue (RGB) basemap can offer up-to-date information. These maps allow you to see exactly how much land is used for cultivation to the nearest centimeter, and also help you monitor your crop over a long period of time, allowing you to adapt from season to season in a timely manner.
- NDVI cards: The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (abbr. NDVI) allows you to deepen your understanding of the RGB map. This map shows the amount of infrared light reflected from an area, which is an indicator of malnutrition and drought.
This data collection can be used to identify problem crops up to two weeks before physical signs appear, according to Go Intelligence, making it an invaluable tool for farmers trying to accurately predict yield levels.
Example maps created using DJI drone data.
Precision drones and payloads for agriculture
If you’re looking for the best in farming technology, DJI Innovations drones and payloads are at the very least worth considering. Their solutions are developed taking into account the needs of agricultural producers. To date, DJI drones have sprayed over 350,000 square kilometers, and that’s just based on data manually uploaded by users.
Some of the best agricultural drones include:
Agras T40 Series (T30/T20/T20P/T10)
The latest in a line of successful Agras drones, the Agras T40 and T30 are the ideal solution for spraying large fields with their 40kg capacity, flow rates up to 50kg per minute, spreading widths up to 7 meters and a capacity of 1 ton of fertilizer per hour, which indicates the ability to handle up to 40 acres per hour.
The top-of-the-line Agras T40 also boasts an ultra-high definition camera and adjustable gimbal that allows the drone to collect real-time images of farmland and orchards, build maps on the spot, and automatically detect site boundaries and obstacles for intelligent route planning and efficient spraying/application fertilizers.
DJI Agras T40.
DJI Agras T30.
The mighty Agras T30 and T40 are not the only Agras drones you can take a look at. The developer offers Agras T20, Agras T20P and T10, which are also designed for spraying crops, but they are more suitable for small and medium-sized fields, which allows the consumer to wisely choose an unmanned fleet based on the amount of cultivated area.
DJI Agras T20.
DJI Agras T20P.
DJI Agras T10.
Phantom 4 RTK
While the Agras range was designed with field spraying in mind, the Phantom 4 RTK is the perfect tool for field mapping. It can help create accurate maps thanks to the RTK module that is built directly into the drone. The new TimeSync system ensures the absolute accuracy of the received maps, ensuring that the flight controller, camera and RTK module are constantly aligned to obtain fixed positioning data that you can trust. This drone is the perfect addition to any surveying job, from the farm to the construction site.
Designed with the agricultural sector in mind, the P4 Multispectral fits perfectly into your workflows. This tool takes advantage of multispectral imaging to get an immediate view of plant health. Features include a built-in spectral sunlight sensor and an RTK module for centimeter-level accuracy.
In addition to the drones, the developer offers an efficient payload designed specifically for agriculture, designed to solve some of the most difficult tasks in the sector – the T Series Spreading System 3.0. The T Series Spreading System 3.0 is a spreading system designed to work in perfect tandem with DJI agricultural drones. It is an invaluable tool for everything from rice seeding to prairie sowing, oilseed sowing and even fertilization.