DJM Aerial Solutions: How Drones are changing the face of Farming and Agriculture in the UK
Drones are currently becoming a revolutionary strategy within UK agriculture and are expected to be worth around the $22 billion by 2020. Farmers have been using drones for many years, but with recent advances in drone technology, the farming industry is now able to adopt drone use as part of their precision agriculture work flow due to the ease in which a drone can be procured and operated.
Drones are now a vital part of agriculture given the cost competitiveness of the industry in general, the use of a drone services opposed to traditional methods of manned aircraft, satellite imagery or man power on the ground has a colossal positive impact on finances in agriculture due to the ground coverage that can be achieved using a drone, not to mention the operational readiness and organisational benefits. A drone can be off the ground on a planned mission in minutes after arriving on site. Compare that to any of the traditional methods and the time saved is enormous. This alone is a huge benefit to agriculture allowing them to assign their time to other projects.
Ways in which the use of Drones can benefit the UK Agriculture Industry.
Drones are giving the agriculture industry a high tech makeover and DJM Aerial Solutions are proud to be a part of this. Below are several ways in which drone technology is currently involved in agriculture.
1: Soil and Field Analysis
Drone use can be benevolent at the start of the crop growing cycle. Drone technology paired with good cloud based software and precision sensors can produce precise 3-D elevation maps for early soil analysis, useful in planning seed planting patterns. After planting, drone-driven soil analysis provides data for irrigation etc.
There is currently drone technology start-up companies that have developed a drone planting system that fire seed pods at sufficient velocity allowing penetration of the soil, The seed pods themselves are peregrinated and covered in a nutritious hydrogel, giving them a higher chance of success. The study calculates a rate of 75% and decreases planting costs by 85% agricultural producers will eventually have no choice but to use this method.
3: Crop Spraying
Drones used in crop spraying is now becoming a popular method for agriculture in the USA and starting to become reality in the UK also. A drone can scan the ground and spray the correct amount of liquid, modulating distance from the ground and spray in real time for even coverage. Distance measuring sensors that are common place with most high-end drones scan the surface below and allow the drone to adjust its height automatically preventing any collisions The result: increased crop efficiency with a reduction of in the number of chemicals in groundwater systems. Studies estimate that drone based crop spraying in farming can be completed up to five times faster than with traditional machinery
4: Crop Monitoring
A UK farmer’s largest obstacle is without a doubt vast areas of land and field with an active crop growth and no way of efficiently monitoring the health of that crop on a regular basis. Until now challenges down to monitoring systems were desperately unreliable. Farms were reliant on satellite imagery which offered the most advanced form of crop monitoring, however, the drawbacks are severe. An advanced ordering of images which can only be taken once in a 24 hour period and are generally poor quality and reliant on high visibility was the best technology available, these services come at huge costs. Drone technology completely eradicates all of the inefficiency that was previously an issue. DJM Aerial Solutions are able to offer a crop monitoring service indicating how the crop develops revealing any inefficiencies and providing you with better yields.
Drone technology is fast evolving and can now be paired with multi spectral or thermal sensors that provide detailed data on the entire or part of a field that might need improvement due to dryness or disease. Drone use paired with good software can also calculate the vegetation index in crops during the growing period which describes the relative density and health of the crop. Allowing early disease detection if used as part of a preventive maintenance strategy in agriculture. A drone is also capable of producing elevation models which can be used to provided precision data on how the land lays in terms of water flow.
6: Crop Health
It’s essential to assess crop health and spot bacterial or fungal infections. Drone based scanning equipment when paired with the correct sensors are capable of identifying which plants reflect different amounts of green light and NIR light. This information can produce multispectral images that track changes in plants and indicate their health. Essential for agricultural producers saving them time effort and huge cost. If the disease goes undetected or is detected too late then this could cost the farmers entire crop and they may need to rely on insurances for recovery of costs.
What does the future hold for our Farming Industry?
Drone use in agriculture is no doubt the biggest advocate within the entire drone industry with technology expanding at a rate not usually known, we can only assume that the future holds even greater, better further advancements for the farming community. Will we see swarms of drones working autonomously in the field. Possibly hybrids that are capable of collecting land based and aerial data. DJM Aerial Solutions are well placed and primed for this industry to explode. Agricultural producers must adopt this great technology and they will stay ahead of the competition allowing them to reap the benefits exponentially.
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