Drone technology: A new age in farming
New technology is always exciting. The latest phone is more efficient and takes better photos, the latest app helps you organize your life and the latest computer gets work done faster. In agriculture, farmers also get excited about new technology. The latest and greatest thing can help them farm smarter and more sustainably. Today, that new exciting piece of technology is drones.
From photography to power line inspection, drones are already used in many industries. While some farmers have begun to incorporate drone technology into their practices, new FAA rules that went into effect August 29 will make it much easier for farmers to do so. Previously, farmers needed a pilot’s license to fly drones, but the new rules require only a remote pilot airman certificate, which is easier to acquire.
Farmers like Kevin Scott of Valley Springs are already using drones to do things like survey their crops. In an interview with KDLT, he shared, “Snap a picture and you can take that home, put it on your computer and blow it up. Then you can count the bugs on the plant. If you have bugs to treat, then treat it. If you don’t, good. But you don’t have to walk a half a mile out in the field where you can barely walk to do the counting; you can fly out there and do it.”
How else do farmers plan to use drones on their farms? We looked into a few ways to use this new technology:
• Assess hail or storm damage to crops in various parts of fields.
• Infrared cameras allow farmers to check a plant’s temperature to determine irrigation needs because dry plants show warmer temperatures than moist plants.
• To scan plant health and monitor weed presence and insect damage, which helps farmers target specific areas of the field to apply pesticides more precisely.
• Farmers can even obtain data on crop nitrogen levels, which allows them to choose more precise fertilizer amounts and application areas.
• Inspect tiling and drainage in fields.
• To monitor livestock as they are grazing.
All of these potential uses help farmers to be more sustainable and efficient. Drones give farmers an opportunity to more closely monitor crops, and certain cameras are making data more precise and readily available. They can now be even more precise when applying resources like pesticides, fertilizers and water, which means less impact on the environment.