There is a good assortment of drones that no longer need ground stations or PCs to communicate. A farmer can now head out into the field with only a drone and tablet and be able to collect high-res imagery in minutes with simple, easy-to-use mobile apps.

Drones on the Farm
Drones on the Farm

Len Calderone for | Agritechtomorrow

Drones have come a long way on the farm. It is no longer hit or miss in buying the right drone for a farm. There is a good assortment of drones that no longer need ground stations or PCs to communicate. A farmer can now head out into the field with only a drone and tablet and be able to collect high-res imagery in minutes with simple, easy-to-use mobile apps.

Changes take place quickly during a growing season. Therefore, it is important to call up timely and accurate information in the field. This is vital to identifying and minimizing the influence of pests, disease, and other crop issues. In the past, farmers sometimes had to wait days for airplane or satellite imagery. Newer software, such as DroneDeploy can capture a field image in minutes as the drone flies.  A farmer can literally sit in his/her pickup and get field data. The drone’s flight pattern is automated and can easily fly across160 acres in less than 15 minutes and spot variations and problem areas in NDVI and VARI.

Agriculture is one of the fastest-growing markets for drones. Drones are rapidly becoming an essential tool to help farmers become more resourceful in the field. Over the last few years, drone solutions have emerged, making it conceivable to use aerial data in new and exciting ways—from detecting crop damage to analyzing stand counts.

Early drones were mostly fixed wing models, but recently, we have seen rotary drones become a substantial presence in the field. Although we see quadcopters become popular, agriculture is one of the few fields where fixed wing drones are still quite popular.

PrecisionHawk is committed to transforming the way farmers view their assets and manage resources. They continue to advance a multifaceted technology that includes advanced robotics, robust software, and rich data.

Their drones cover more ground with superior flight time and faster ground speed with the BirdsEyeView FireFLY6 Pro fixed wing drone. From sub-zero temperatures to high winds, the DJI Matrice M200 quadcopter is built to fly in a wide range of conditions, while the M210 has the endurance of the M200, with universal ports for multiple sensors.

The SOLO AGCO EDITION is built on 3D Robotics Solo platform and designed to change with the times. This drone utilizes a three-axis Solo Gimbal, accessory bay and swappable motor pods, allowing for the simple integration of future technology and features.

The SOLO AGCO EDITION provides operators with hardware, software, service and support in one package. This drone can fly in up to 25 mph winds and has a max speed of 55 mph. Each fully charged, smart battery is capable of covering up to 60 acres, depending on conditions and user-defined settings. It has an average flight time of 20 minutes, fully equipped. The kit comes with four batteries, enabling the drone to scout up to 240 acres in one trip.

The Sentera Omni drone features a fully gimbaled mount on a quad-rotor UAV, which means you can direct your sensor to look anywhere—up, down and around in virtually any direction.

Paired with the Sentera Double 4K sensor, the Omni omnidirectional inspection drone becomes even more powerful with two zoom levels or simultaneous capture of high-resolution RGB, NIR, and NDVI data. Perfect for inspection, survey & mapping, agriculture or anywhere you need to collect high-precision data from many angles.

Leveraging advanced drone-enabled data analytics, AgEagle allows global consumer packaged goods companies to meet mission-critical sustainability goals and objectives by helping them reduce the chemicals in the food and products they produce and protect and nurture the environment.

The RX-60 is the most durable, lightweight at 7 pounds, professional-grade aerial imagery collection technology on the market, capable of pinpointing areas of crop stress before they can be seen by the naked eye. Electric-powered and encased in carbon fiber, the RX-60 is designed to fly up to 60 minutes and can capture virtually thousands of high resolution NIR/NDVI aerial images and cover up to 400 acres on a single battery charge.  What's more, the RX-60's proprietary design permits flight in wind speeds up to 42 mph and will capture images even in the cloudiest of conditions.

The French aerospace company, Trimble, sells its highly advanced UX5 drone in the U.S. through local resellers. Hardware, software and processing are included. Using an optional MicaSense RedEdge or 24MP visual camera, the UX5 can capture data down to a 2cm/pixel resolution and operates in the harshest of environments.

The Trimble Access™ Aerial Imaging application loaded onto the Trimble tablet operates the Trimble UX5 and is a single software tool for planning aerial missions, performing pre-flight checks and monitoring flights. Intuitive workflows ensure reliable results, while conducting flights in a fully automated manner from launch to landing.

No piloting skills required.

Oregon-based HoneyComb provides an all-in-one hardware, software and data storage solution with their AgDrone. The composite drone was built for durability and flight endurance.  Two cameras provide an array of data. HoneyComb provides their own data processing services to provide actionable information. Additionally, the company claims that the AgDrone System features an advanced autopilot system that allows the drone to fly itself. No flying experience required.

AgDrone System covers 600-800 acres per hour when flown at 400 feet. This is roughly 10x the coverage of a quadcopter with exceptional performance and stability in wind.

Once installed, the American Robotic’s fully automated Scout will fly at pre-scheduled times, or image on-demand. The operators can command Scout and review reports remotely from any phone, tablet, or computer. The Scout operates in continuous, real-time, and on-demand operation. It is fully autonomous in planning, launch, flight, imaging, landing, charging, data Management and drone storage.

Housed in a weatherproof charging shed, the Scout emerges from the roof, flies itself over a predetermined area gathering visual and multispectral images, then returns to the charging station and transfers the data set which is then uploaded to the cloud.

This arrangement allows automatic, remote reporting of crop health indicators such as drought and heat damage, pests, disease, and flooding.

SlantRange has intelligent sensing and analytics to digitize crops today for more efficient and predictable food supplies tomorrow. SlantRange’s patented aerial phenotyping technologies are trusted to deliver accurate and comprehensive measures of plant development by the biggest names in agriculture.

SlantRange equips their drones with a SlantRange 4P+ multispectral sensor, which has a Precision Navigation Module and RTK kit to ensure image and metadata quality while remaining spectrally true over changing environmental conditions.

The possibilities that drones present in agriculture seem endless. Equipped with surveillance technology, drones can fly high and fast. Precision agriculture or smart farming is based on the assimilation of advanced technology in the management of crops to increase production without compromising quality.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AgriTechTomorrow

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