DRONES ARE BRINGING AMERICAN FARMERS INTO THE DIGITAL AGE

Dry or swampy soil, weeds, insect pests, birds, grazers, molds and other fungal infections, dead patches—these are among the problems farmers must keep an eye out for. Traditionally farmers have had to walk or drive the fields to look for these and other issues. Even on a small farm this is time-consuming and error-prone, which is why farmers are beginning to turn to drones.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. farmers either use or plan to use drones in farm monitoring, management, and assessment, according to a recent study.

This is despite the fact that a similar percentage of farmers have concerns over adopting drone use. It seems clear, then, that farmers consider the benefits of crop monitoring, soil and field analysis, and crop and livestock health assessment to be far greater than the perceived problems.

The Drive reports that farmers are using drones in four main areas: “Crop field scanning with compact multispectral imaging sensors, GPS map creation through onboard cameras, heavy payload transportation, and livestock monitoring with thermal-imaging camera-equipped drones.”

Drones will be able to provide information that can analyze the patterns and alert farmers to changes in those patterns, or in the numbers of livestock being monitored. Greater precision in monitoring also allows for more precision in watering and herbicide, pesticide, and fertilizer application.

Use of drones will allow farmers to better understand their crops and livestock, including their health and inventory. Increased knowledge means increased yields, and that means increased profits. Time will be saved, and more accurate plans for the future will be able to be developed.

As drones and drone cameras improve—and improve in response to the needs of farmers—they will only prove to benefit farmers more.

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