Globally speaking, water and food are in short supply. How can we improve our agricultural processes to maximize the output while minimizing the inputs? Enter precision agriculture:
Based on what are called “site-specific” methods, precision agriculture involves studying and managing variations within fields that can affect crop yield.It revolves around the idea that treating a large region as a uniform area is essentially wasteful and uses an excess of costly resources in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
Now you might be wonder what drones have to do with agriculture let alone precision agriculture. Drones provide strong value precision agriculture, they can collect data that is used for key visualizations that indicate crop health. However integral, they are, drone are just one piece of the puzzle:
Improved data visualisation would help farmers to benchmark against their own data; keeping records over a period of time would allow a better helicopter view of where costs were incurred and revenue generated.
Precision farming has dramatically increased the amount of data available, from mini-weather stations giving field conditions, drones visualising crop health and telemetrics on machinery utilisation and fuel costs.
Matthew Smith, computational ecologist at Microsoft Research and co-chair of the SIG, says:
“There are so many variables in agriculture, knowing as much as you can about each of them means you are in better position to create models to help informed decision making. However, you need a system in place that can extract meaningful information from this data. We need the input of farmers to determine what metrics they would find most insightful.”
Most industry analyst project growth in the use of drone for agricultural purposes. If you are interested in a career in drones but haven’t settled on a specialty yet, this might be perfect for you.