DRONE IMPROVE PLANTATION MANAGEMENT

by Iffa Dania

According to the United Nations, the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050, thus causing global agricultural production to increase 69% between 2010 and 2050. To meet this demand, farmers and agricultural businesses are shifting to technology to boost work efficiency and to stay consistent in the market.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) commonly known as a drone is a ground-based controller aircraft with no pilot on board and it is in use in several fields. It can be operated either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by on-board computers (Pobkrut, Theerapat & Eamsa-ard, Tanthip & Kerdcharoen, Teerakiat 2016).

The Future Farming stated that the agricultural drone market is expected to grow from USD 1.2 billion by 2019 to USD 4.8 billion by 2024. Managing a farm is not an easy task because things change over a period of time and there are a lot of aspects that need to be oversee.

The application of UAV in the agriculture and environmental sector keeps increasing and it is foreseen to become one of the technologies of the future. This is due to the lack of labour, cost and time saving and also efficient productivity for the business in numerous fields.

UAV or drone are proven to be efficient in managing the plantation and emerged as a widely used sophisticated tool in agricultural business including the detection of odour, crop monitoring and mapping, crop spraying and also planting and seeding.

Odour Detection
Source: BKS Partners

When it comes to drones, no one has ever come to their senses that drones can detect odours. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) come in a variety of sizes and types. One of the functions of a drone is to make sure that plant stays healthy to sustain agricultural plant growth by detecting odours and volatile chemicals in the plants.

Drones obviously cannot smell, it’s not a living creature, but with the specific equipment that can be installed on the drone it can do the work for you. For example, E-nose, that can be mounted on the fix-wings of the drone to detect and classify volatiles or chemical odours.

E-nose drone can be a very useful technology for farmers in many applications, such as to map the malodour emission from their cattle farms, to search for ethylene for fruit ripeness detection, etc.

The gas sensor performance, efficiency, durability, selectivity to target gases of interest as well as pattern searching algorithms (Pobkrut, Theerapat & Eamsa-ard, Tanthip & Kerdcharoen, Teerakiat 2016).

Drone equipped with E-nose module can fly steadily in the air and it can perform autonomous flying via mission planner software which is done by the pilot.

MONITORING AND MAPPING

The monitoring of crop growth and performance is an important aspect of agricultural management to maintain the fertility and health of the crop. Drones are reliably tough, it ensures stable flight in strong winds and it could still continue to work in a wide range of environments.

Other than the ease of use, drones are also being used to monitor the health of soil and monitor those areas which are difficult to reach by human and surveillance of crop yields of large agricultural farms.

Special imaging equipment called Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) are also one of the tools that can be used for the analysis of agri-environmental measures to indicate plant health.

UAVs inspection can also detect any infestation symptoms earlier, so that farmers can deal with it fast enough to save the plant. 

Source: Drone Master Production

Unlike drones, satellites offer more expensive services and the use of UAV has helped to lower the costs. Also with its high-resolution and highly accurate orthophoto, drones can provide the land surface information which allows growers to discover any irregularities in the field.

Apart from that, 3-D maps can also be generated by drones for the purpose of soil and field analysis which is very useful for farmers to take care during seed ploughing also for managing the nitrogen level of fields. Small patches of water bodies or bare soils can easily be detected.

CROP SPRAYING

The use of chemical substances in the removal of insects is very popular and used by farmers to take care of their plants. Because of the velocity, precision and efficiency of the spray procedure, the use of aircraft becomes prevalent (Chavan, Dr 2019).

To maintain the crop yields, the plants need to be protected and properly fertilized. Dryland Technology author said that, in spraying, the optimum droplet size differs for different types of application.

Agricultural drones like POLA-V16 are capable of carrying heavy payloads and can be handled safely and it is proven to be more efficient than manual spraying equipment. Drone can help you to reach the spot where you want to spray, it could spray crops that previously have not been sprayed before.

This will help farmer to add fertiliser to where the crop needed most as well as reducing the resource

PLANTING AND SEEDING
Source: uavcoach

According to the World Economic Forum UK company Dendra plans to plant 500 billion trees by 2060 using AI and drones can plant 120 seed pods per minute.

The drones work by flying across the plantation area for monitoring and collecting data about the soil conditions to decide where to plant.

Then the drone will fire the seeds into the ground with its air pressure pneumatic system into the ground. Companies are spending millions of dollars for labour to plant trees, instead this drone technology can do it way more better in planting trees with a more cost-effective way.

Not only that, drones can also plant trees at hard reach areas without putting the workers life at risk and are able to plant more efficiently.

Conclusion

By now, you have already seen that there are many advantages and capabilities of drone application. It is profitable not only to small farmers but also to marginal farmers.

So, no matter what your crop field sizes are, there is nothing wrong with trying to invest on drone to maximize your revenues while minimizing your expenses.

Drone technology has proven to contribute greatly to the agricultural industry and will continue to grow in the future.

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