How drone technology can be used to help in a farming environment

There are many industries that have died out thanks to the advances made in technology, but one industry that absolutely cannot die out is farming. More than 300,000 people in the UK are employed in the farming industry and there is no doubt that this industry is the backbone of our society, consistently ensuring we have food on the table and on the supermarket shelves.


However, there have been concerns about how the industry has been impacting the environment, as lots of natural resources are used every single day while farming. However as with any industry, great strides have been made in regards to farm machinery, so as to reduce the burden on farmers who tend to have vast spaces to cover on their own or as part of a team. One technological advance has been shown to help in a number of ways though – the drone.


Crop analysis


Many people don’t understand the scientific nature of farming, but there is a huge amount of crop analysis involved. This helps farmers to know when a crop is ready to be harvested, or if there is an issue with perhaps the soil or the environment around the crop.


A key example of this is nitrogen application. The overhead view from a drone allows farmers to see exactly where nitrogen would be most effective if applied. This can help to reduce the overall amount used, which can therefore have a positive impact on the environment as a whole.


Also, the capability of taking high quality photos from the air means that farmers are able to observe their fields from above to get an overall view of how their crops are faring, which can save time, resources and money on a daily basis. This gives farmers the chance to be more accurate with regards to what their crops need and therefore their overall output can be greater, with a higher quality than previously.


A flying helicopter with raised landing gears and a camera with blured crop field and farm structures on a background highlighted by a sunset


Not only are drones able to take photos, but they are now so advanced that they are able to play bigger roles in the maintenance of a farm, such as being able to spray crops from overhead.


A farming team in Denmark carried out a fascinating study along these lines and found that not only were drones able to spray crops, but they were also able to analyse the temperature and colour of barley plants from above and then immediately work out the exact amount that each part of the crop needed to be sprayed. This can save a huge amount of time and may mean that farmers are able to reduce some of their heavy workload.


There is considerable potential for such devices to be used in places where water is scarcely available, which will help to ensure that water isn’t wasted. This could make a life-changing difference in communities all over the world, so there is no doubt that these advances may, in time, completely change the farming industry as a whole. In communities such as these, farmers may also find it unsafe to be in the sun for too long during the day and in situations such as these, the ability to use a drone to spray crops is invaluable, as it means that farmers are not putting their health at risk to be able to make a living.



Taking care of animals


Not only is there the opportunity for drone usage to make a difference in farming with regards to crops, there is also evidence to suggest that there have been advances in relation to livestock care too. For example, in situations where it is thought there is illness within a flock, drones are able to go in and assess the animals, without having to risk a human entering the environment. If illness is found, then drones also have the capability of providing treatment to the animals, meaning there is less chance of illness being spread.


Drones aren’t currently common on farms in the UK, however there is a lot of promise in the technology, meaning we are likely to see in an increase in the amount they’re used in the future.


The ability of a drone to accurately administer water or chemicals to crops removes the risk of error so long as they are maintained regularly, which makes it much more likely that farmers will be able to see a spike in productivity. This could help what is sometimes a difficult industry to make money from and could therefore reduce stress levels in those working within the industry.


Ultimately, although the technology isn’t quite up to the standard of being introduced into every farm in the country, there is no doubt at all that baby steps are being made and it is certain that the industry will be keeping an eye on those steps in the near future.