DRONE TECHNOLOGY CURRENTLY STANDS AHEAD OF FARM MACHINERY, WAITING FOR IT TO CATCH UP…
One of the most applicable solutions a drone can provide in this day and age, is crop mapping for variable rate application. From low-tech and basic to highly advanced, there are a multitude of ways in which drones can provide a helping hand in the field.
Today, drone tech has advanced to the point that it is able to provide data that is of a higher resolution than most farm machinery is currently capable of fully utilising – but it is in development… such as Seletron technology from Househam.
This is highly evident in spraying systems. (Though drone sprayers such as the DJI Agras MG-1S may very well be on the way to overtaking this area all on their own!) With the centimetre-level accuracy available from a ten minute mapping flight, drone data stands in a powerful position of relevance.
Variable section spraying booms and eventually variable nozzle booms will soon be able to use drone data to maximise efficiency in the field.
But farmers can already use this data to reduce error and save money on chemicals.
Farmers often end up with patches of dead ground in their fields that will not produce. When establishing crops get pummeled with bad weather, or birds start pecking at seed unchecked, this can become a real problem.
Often times, these patches aren’t even taken into account when applying things like nitrogen and in the long-term, this can be a costly mistake to make.
BUT FARMERS CAN EASILY SET UP A USEFUL SOLUTION USING A WELL-TIMED DRONE MAP.
This can be used to zone different areas in the field so that operators can apply a variable rate, rather than a flat one, so that for instance in the case of nitrogen, dead ground is given nothing and areas that are further behind are given more than areas which are further ahead. “If it’s dead – turn it off”.
Once the map has been zoned and the rates have been decided for each zone, (taking into account dead ground versus plant matter) the map can be configured for application with various systems, depending on what’s available.
There are several ways this can be achieved, ranging from low-tech to high-tech:
- Low-Tech: Print the map off and give it to the operator so that they know whereabouts they should and should not spray.
- Medium-Tech: Give the operator a GPS enabled tablet so that they can see when they are in each zone.
- Automatic Medium-Tech: Export the data into a format that your farm management software can use so that you can have the machinery apply different rates automatically.
- High-Tech: Use advanced software for processing, allowing rates to be assigned locally and files to be exported that will work automatically with machinery.
We go over how to do this in more detail in our Using Your Farm Drone training course, to find out more, click here.
There are many other aspects of agriculture that are being revolutionised by drones right now, so keep your eye on our blog for more information.