Here are a few ways aerial and ground-based drones will be used throughout the crop cycle (MIT Technology Review, July 2016)
1. Soil and field analysis: Drones can be instrumental at the start of the crop cycle. They produce precise 3D maps for early soil analysis, useful in planning seed planting patterns. After planting, drone-driven soil analysis provides data for irrigation and nitrogen-level management.
2. Crop monitoring: Farming’s largest obstacles are vast fields and low efficiency in crop monitoring. In the past , satellite imagery offered the most advanced form of monitoring. But images had to be ordered in advance and could be taken only once a day and imprecise. Services were extremely costly and the images’ quality typically suffered on certain days.
Today, time-series animations show the precise development of a crop and reveal production inefficiencies, enabling better crop management.
3. Crop spraying: Drones can scan the ground and spray the correct amount of liquid, modulating distance from the ground and spraying in real time for even coverage. The result: increased efficiency with a reduction of in the amount of chemicals penetrating into groundwater.
4. Planting: There are drone-planting systems that achieve an uptake rate of 75 percent and decrease planting costs by 85 percent. These systems shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil, providing the plant all the nutrients necessary to sustain life.
5. Irrigation: Drones with hyperspectral, multi spectral, or thermal sensors can identify which parts of a field are dry or need improvements. Once the crop is growing, drones allow the calculation of the vegetation index, which describes the relative density and health of the crop, and show the heat signature, the amount of energy or heat the crop emits.
6. Health assessment: It’s essential to assess crop health and spot bacterial or fungal infections on trees. By having Drones scan a crop using both visible and near-infrared light, they can identify which plants reflect different amounts of green light and NIR light. This information can produce multi spectral images that track changes in plants and indicate their health. A speedy response can save an entire field production.
eyesAtop cloud platform enables effective management of multiple drones simulatenously across vast agriculture fields.