Science Technology

How Drone Technology Can Help Farmers Improve Agriculture

Photo: DroneDeploy

DroneDeploy’s Groundbreaking Technology

As an avid photographer, my uncle is the type of person to run head-first after a bear in the deep woods of Yosemite just for a picture. We all have that one friend, right? Two years ago my uncle received a present that changed his life: a drone. Although drone use is not allowed in national parks, my uncle’s first drone altered the way he thought about capturing moments and exploring the world from a different viewpoint, and that brings me to DroneDeploy.

DroneDeoply’s mission is, “…to make the skies open and accessible for everyone.” And with their revolutionary live mapping technology, DroneDeploy is changing the way business owners see and understand the world like never before. Commercial use of drones is on the rise, and DroneDeploy’s user-friendly platform allows businesses to improve their workflow on the ground and in office. Specializing in the industries of agriculture, construction, inspection, mining, roofing and drone services, DroneDeploy provides data storage, customizable tools and unlimited resources for business owners. We’re taking a closer look at DroneDeploy’s impact on the agricultural industry and how it plays a vital role in field intelligence.

Heirloom tomatoesPixie tangerines and Microgreens – they all come from the Earth, and quality produce starts with the growers and farmers that nurture the soil and tend to their crops. With DroneDeploy’s mapping technology, farmers can more efficiently problem solve and deliver bountiful harvests so that you can have the very best at your dinner table. That said, we’re turning it over to the experts at DroneDeploy to learn more about their revolutionary technology.

Q&A With DroneDeploy

Agriculture is one of the fastest growing markets in the commercial drone industry. How does your Precision Ag Package assist farmers with their day-to-day responsibilities?

DroneDeploy: The Precision Ag Package was designed with growers in mind. Its curated features provide everything ag pros need to generate aerial insights and boost efficiency in the field. DroneDeploy also integrates with the common ag software that growers use and gives them access to 70-plus apps. DroneDeploy has the first ever drone App Market that integrates with major industry leaders like John Deere, so they can fit drones into their existing workflows and reap the benefits of drone data.

Instead of doing spot testing — testing one area of your farm and extrapolating the results — our user-friendly software allows growers to examine their whole fields quickly. Real-time insights like Live Map deliver actionable information, meaning that growers can make the decisions that boost yield and minimize crop loss without ever having to leave the field. It also helps identify variations and problem areas with NDVI, VARI and more.

How do crop field scanning and GPS map creation bring innovation to the field? 

DD: Scanning a field on foot for problems is much like looking for a needle in a haystack. With DroneDeploy you can cover hundreds of acres in a single flight and pinpoint exact locations of stress using a drone map — such as disease or irrigation issues. Then you can use this map to walk to the precise location, ground truth the data, and determine what’s wrong. You can even attach notes, photos and annotations in the field with your mobile device to share with your agronomist or foreman. All in all, it’s improving efficiency in an industry where every second counts. By catching an issue quickly, you can save an entire crop and preserve your harvest.

What kind of information does the ag-specific technology provide for farmers regarding plant health and growth? 

DD: Growers can fly their crops to quickly measure plant health using built-in vegetation analyses using just an iPhone or iPad — all in real time. Once they spot troubled areas with these analyses, they can then use DroneDeploy to generate prescription application zones in their field, enabling them to target specific areas with pesticides or fertilizer to ensure a prosperous harvest.

By integrating with other apps, growers can count crops and determine the economic impact of lost plants using artificial intelligence (Agremo), identify damaged crops caused by severe events to support insurance claims (Skymatics) with cutting-edge computer vision, and more.

How does ag-specific drone technology cater to pre and post-harvest challenges and practices? 

DD: You can use drone data to help prepare for a growing season by assessing barren soil, reviewing historically challenging spots in the field, and mapping your irrigation setup. And using plant health indices you can precisely determine the right time to harvest your crop to maximize your yield.

What’s the benefit of using drone data and stitch crop imagery versus manned aircraft imagery? 

DD: In short, drone maps real-time data and higher resolution images. Farmers no longer have to wait days for aerial images as they used to in the past. Drones are also much cheaper to deploy and can integrate with more tools to streamline the whole process. While manned aircraft imagery is useful for analyzing vast amounts of terrain (think around 2,000 miles), the average farm in the U.S. is under 450 acres, and considering drones can fly 160 acres in less than 15 minutes, they are more than capable of mapping out farms across the country.

What are some of the ways farmers can utilize your DroneDeploy App Market to collaborate and grow their business?

DD: All the industry leaders — farming and otherwise — have tools on the App Market. From small business to enterprises, tens of thousands of drone users from more than 180 countries trust DroneDeploy to power their operations.

What each app does ranges in complexity. On the simpler end, there’s a Box integration that helps everyone in an organization collaborate and upload data to a Box account. On the more involved end, the John Deere app helps sync drone data to their MyJohnDeere account to produce variable rate prescriptions, analyze soil makeup, and review historical field data to make predictions for the coming year.

How does your partnership with Agremo and access to their crop reports, including Stand Count and Plant Population data, provide farmers with the best data for their needs? 

DD: Agremo is an industry-leading agricultural sensing and analysis platform. We’ve partnered with Agremo to bring drone crop reports to DroneDeploy, so our agriculture customers can create actionable reports that drive down costs and improve crop performance. These reports improve efficiency and eliminate error by leveraging the latest in machine learning and AI to provide easy-to-digest information, and actionable insights they can put to work to improve their harvest.

How do you see this technology revolutionizing the industry regarding finance and plant/crop prosperity? 

DD: It’s a much more efficient method of surveying a field. Not only do you eliminate the substantial finances needed for manned flight surveys, but the cost to purchase and operate a drone is relatively inexpensive — even under $1,000 — with hardware prices plummeting in 2017.

Live Map will continue to allow growers to derive more detailed insights on crop health, helping them spot diseased crops before it can spread further and whether it makes sense to replant a dead section of crops, for example. These quicker and smarter decisions will continuously improve growers’ plant and financial prosperity.

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Article by Jessie Yount for Sauté Magazine. Photography by DroneDeploy. Read the original article here.

By Sauté Magazine

Sauté Magazine gives readers a taste of the good life by showcasing the unique culinary culture of Southern California. We share a local's perspective on the hottest restaurants and bars and explore recipes and fine wines that make dining at home one of the best seats in the house. Although we are in the business of telling our readers where to dine, we’d like to think there is a little more sustenance to our content. We recognize the fast-changing landscape of the culinary industry and use that as an opportunity to dig deeper into our storytelling abilities. Sauté Magazine showcases larger conversations through a culinary lens that readers can connect with on a global level while tying it back to the industry professionals within our community.