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Imagine yourself without the internet today. Do you think the world would progress so much without technology? Right from the moment we wake, our lives are surrounded by technology. It has made our lives more convenient and easy. Technological research has surged tremendously over the past few years in every aspect of the professional field. One such technology is called the Drones. Today, we are going to understand what drones are and their specific application in agriculture.
About Drone Technology
Applications of Drone Technology
Drones are used to record high-definition videos of vast landscapes, wedding venues, parties, travel, and more.
- Forests and Wildlife
Drones are used in the analysis of wildlife data and manage human-wildlife conflicts.
- Urban Development
In urban areas, drones are used to survey the city, lands, project monitoring, and quality assessments. They are also used to improve the urban planning system.
The recent COVID-19 outbreak saw the use of drone technology to deliver medical supplies and city surveillance during the lockdown implementation. It ensured quick delivery of the necessities and kept tabs on those who broke the lockdown regulations.
Over recent years, drone technology is highly used in the agricultural sector to monitor crop quality, soil assessment, terrain survey, resource availability, and utilization.
Additionally, drones are widely used in Homeland Security to monitor real-time crimes, mining surveys, traffic management, disaster management, sea and oceanic research, and polar research. There are strict Government rules and regulations for flying drones in certain areas.
Drone Technology in Agriculture
The agricultural drone is designed to suit the farming environment. Drones in agriculture can:
- Capture high-resolution images and videos of a farm area.
- Can view all the data in real-time.
- The raw data is processed in the Cloud and translated into useful information using various algorithms.
- Graphical representation of field information concerning soil quality, land size, crop health, precipitation, etc.
The overall crop health depends on various environmental conditions. Drones can assist in:
- Crop Scouting or Monitoring Crop Health
Agricultural drones are equipped with Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI); special imaging equipment. The colour differences recorded indicate the overall crop health. For instance, the colours of healthy leaves will differ from that of dry and dead leaves. They also monitor the overall growth of the crops during the harvest season and differentiate between the crop growth stages.
- Monitoring Soil Conditions
Soil is a crucial element for plant growth and moisture and water retention. Drones can map the entire farm area, including elevations and other irregularities on the land. Some drones can also monitor soil nitrogen levels, using advanced sensors. Drones can provide color differentiation between wet and dry soil, enabling farmers to plan farming and irrigation accurately.
- Spray Treatments
The most challenging aspect of agriculture or farming is the protection of crops from infestations. Manual spray treatment with insecticides or pesticides can be hazardous to the applicator and daunting. Drone sprayers can easily navigate the hard-to-reach field areas and high elevations. The drone sprayers need more testing and research to understand the spray drift.
- Security Operations
Drones are used to secure the field perimeters that have sensitive crops and research studies in motion. Drones can monitor the fencing instead of hiring more security guards. They can also monitor disturbances, activities, threats, etc., in the areas.
The Future of Drone Technology in Agriculture
Drone technology is here to stay and expand with more futuristic designs.
- Drone Pollination
Imagine a robot bee going around pollinating crops! Small, insect-shaped drones are being designed and tested to pollinate plants without damaging them. They are also planning to develop autonomous drones that can self-assess crop health without operators’ instructions.
- Drone AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is surging like never before. Drone technology with integrated Machine Learning (ML) and AI is being developed to effectively monitor large monocultural fields. More research is required for AI drone systems to recognize common crops and their growth patterns.
- Drone Irrigation
With the increasing drought conditions, vital irrigation solutions are a must. Research in Australia is creating drone irrigation systems in a way to reduce excess water wastage. The drone sensors can capture moisture and water levels efficiently.
Drone technology is widely used in the agricultural sector to monitor crop health, soil parameters, water levels, and weather conditions. Drones can monitor different terrains where human reach is difficult. The technology is still young and will grow enormously in the coming years with vigorous research, development, and testing.