When most consumers hear the word “drone” they envision military or surveillance operations. But, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) appear to be a significant industry and offer a vast array of resources for differing applications. As the FAA determines the appropriate regulations (and assuming it has jurisdiction), the future use of UAVs in agriculture is particularly important to the firm’s Food & Agriculture industry clients.
As many of us connected to agriculture know, the use of data and software to farm with precision has been an emerging industry trend, but is likely to become the norm. The introduction of UAVs as part of precision farming seems inevitable, and will only make the process more accessible, widespread and accurate. Farmers have the potential to access more data at a lower cost than ever before, and UAVs will drive those costs even lower.
Complete a quick web search of UAV startup companies, and it likely reveals the intense interest and investment in using UAVs in agriculture. While access to satellite imagery and vegetation indices previously seemed cost-prohibitive for the average farmer, the possibilities that UAVs offer are almost limitless. Although unmanned pesticide application appears a long way off, the ability of UAVs to track crop growth, stress and damage is on the horizon. The ability to save “person hours” and fuel costs from scouting and surveying crops is a real incentive that will likely drive the development and application of UAVs in agriculture. Also, the potential for farmers to model yields at harvest based upon up-to-date growth data gathered by UAVs offers interesting incentives and possibilities.
It will be interesting to observe and report as the UAV industry evolves and changes farming, yet again, for current and future generations of America’s farmers.