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Short Guide to Buying a Drone for Agriculture

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY LAURENT ABADIE A photo taken on September 9, 2014 shows a drone flying over vineyards of the Pape Clement castle, belonging to Bordeaux winemaker Bernard Magrez in the soutwestern French town of Pessac. Magrez is the first winemaker to have bought last February a drone equipped with a infrared camera to determine the optimal maturity of the domain's grapes and thus harvest them at different times. AFP PHOTO JEAN PIERRE MULLER. (Photo credit should read JEAN PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images)

Nowadays, drones are gaining an increasing amount of attention in almost all sectors of our lives. The insight they provide is unmatched for the small investment that they require. One field that can largely benefit from drone use is agriculture. With the help of drones, farmers can evaluate crop health by using thermal imaging, they can keep track of drought conditions, and also aid in applying insecticides.

However, there are so many choices to pick from when looking into buying a drone. Making the right decision can be difficult. Here is a short guide to buying the right drone for agricultural needs.

Budget

First and foremost, a budget must be considered. There are so many options on the market, and they range greatly in cost. Some items come with controllers and extra replacement parts, and others do not. Therefore, setting a budget will determine what can and cannot be purchased within those means.

Types of Views Needed

There are three types of views that drones can provide farmers. Being able to see a crop from the air reveals patterns to expose irrigation problems and soil variation. Pest and fungal infestations can also be seen that might be missed at eye level.

Then there is the fact that airborne cameras can take multispectral images to capture data from infrared images, too. This fact relies on the visual spectrum, which can be combined to create a highlighted view of crops to look at differences between healthy and distressed plants. Once more, this option looks beyond what can be seen with the naked eye.

Finally, a drone can also be scheduled to look at a given area within a specific timeframe. If desired, a look can be taken at a crop on a weekly or bi-weekly rate. Therefore, a time-series animation can be made that shows changes in the crop over time. This animation can reveal troublesome spots or opportunities for management solutions to be found.

Overall Benefits

There are many benefits that farmers can experience from purchasing and using a drone on their land. These benefits include the following:

  • Capture high-resolution images.
  • Optimize where seeds, fertilizers, and water are needed the most.
  • React faster to the existence of bugs, pests, and fungi.
  • Save time when deciding which crops need the most treatment.
  • Make access to real-time mapping that allows for tracking variable rates and growth.
  • Calculate field characteristics and profits long before the season has a chance even to begin.
  • Data processing in a cloud format that allows optimal data information translation.
  • Understand soil quality based on mapping information.

As an added advantage, most drones are water resistant so that they can be used during any weather. This advantage allows for pictures to be taken on any given day, which might also allow insight into different scenarios as far as water movement through a crop when that water comes from natural resources.

Scope of Land Being Surveyed

Some drones fly higher than others, but sometimes height is sacrificed for a quality picture and vice versa. Knowing which choice is the best to go with can be rather difficult. So many different drones exist, so it would serve best to overview the different options on the market currently. One option is the Cheerwing Syma X5sw.

Cheerwing Syma X5sw – $50

Reviews claim this drone is the best of the best. It is a toy-grade drone, so it is not the most professional option to use. It is a quadcopter, so it has four points for power. This model has a rather strong camera, too, meaning the pictures it takes are worthwhile, considering it is toy grade. Cheerwing Syma X5sw specifications include the following:

  • Dimensions: 310 x 310 x 105mm (with prop guards)
  • Diagonal motor distance: 230mm
  • Motor size: 8 x 20mm coreless
  • Weight: 120g (with battery, camera and prop guards)
  • Flight time:
  • 6 to 8 minutes (without prop guards and camera)
  • approximately 4 minutes (with prop guards and camera turned on)
  • Battery: 3.7V 500mAh LiPo
  • Charging time: 40-45 minutes
  • Control distance: approximately 50m
  • Transmitter power: 4 x 1.5V AA batteries (not included)

US Buy Here

 

However it could be worth building a custom Drone, in which case a good Flight controller is the most important part:

 

Tarot ZYX-M Flight Controller – £120

This controller was released in May 2015, and it is underrated for the power that it possesses. The package is well made, considering the price tag it has. This specific controller is aimed at aerial photography users, which makes it a must for farmers. Features include the following:

  • 32-bit processor with super strong computing ability
  • Built in anti-vibration sensor
  • Full metal casing provides excellent protection
  • Supports dual-USB receiver
  • Dual DSM satellite receiver
  • Specialized gimbal control interface, can directly control Tarot gimbal
  • High-performance GPS receiver
  • High-gain antenna
  • Fast satellite searching speed and high accuracy positioning
  • Dual power output can power flight controller, gimbal, and transmitter
  • Voltage monitoring, low voltage alarm

Once again, considering the price tag it has, the features very well measure up.

US Buy Here

Conclusion

There are so many things to consider when wanting to buy a drone for agricultural purposes. Farmers have an advantage when using a drone unlike they ever had before. The price is well worth the purchase, so deciding to buy one shortly could change the way crops are viewed from the beginning of a season and through until the end.

 

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