BENEFITS OF DRONES IN AGRICULTURE
Agriculture and the related sector proved the most resilient to the Covid-19 shock, as it recorded a growth of 3.6% in 2020-21 and fell to 3.9% in 2021-22, driving the real GDP expansion of the overall Indian economy by 9.2% in 2021-22, according to the Economic Survey 2021-22.
Stating that the agricultural sector has seen steady growth over the past two years, the economic study noted that the agricultural and related sector is the largest employer of labor as it accounts for 18.8% (2021 -22) of gross value added. (GVA) of the country.
Growth in related sectors, including livestock, dairy and fishing, has been the main driver of the overall growth of the sector, and these are emerging as high growth sectors.
Our country still needs to improve the productivity and efficiency of the sector to reach the highest potential. Several dimensions and concerns need to be identified, supported and equipped with resolutions. More appropriate methods for monitoring crops, water irrigation, use of pesticides and many other necessary agricultural activities should be adopted. Resources are insufficient, not allocated according to weather conditions or have not been exploited to their maximum potential, which is why there is often a decline in return on investment (ROI).
For India to double its farmers’ incomes, the agricultural sector must immediately adopt advanced digital and precision farming technologies to improve agricultural productivity and democratize access to market information for all farmers. Drones are one such technology that has the potential to revolutionize the agricultural industry through precise and targeted application of agricultural inputs, which will directly improve input use efficiency and farmer safety while reducing simultaneously the overall costs. Many countries such as China, Japan, ASEAN, USA and Brazil are making rapid progress in the adoption of drones for agricultural use and have prioritized regulatory and structural developments to accelerate the adoption of drones powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Drone technology has gained the greatest recognition in the industry due to its diversity and is seen as the future of the agrarian community. The military first used them. However, other industries quickly adopted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) when they discovered its widespread applications. Drones not only improve overall performance, they also encourage farmers to solve other various obstacles and reap many benefits through precision farming.
As the agricultural drone market hits $1.3 billion, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) fill the void of human error and the inefficiency of traditional farming methods. The goal of adopting drone technology is to rule out any guesswork or ambiguity and instead focus on accurate and reliable information. External factors such as weather, soil conditions and temperature play a vital role in agriculture. agricultural drone allows the farmer to adapt to specific environments and make conscious choices accordingly. The data obtained helps regulate crop health, crop treatment, crop scouting, irrigation and to perform field soil testing and crop damage assessments. Drone survey helps increase crop yields and minimize time and expense.
According to experts, the projected world population will be 9 billion by 2050. Agricultural consumption is also expected to increase simultaneously by almost 70%. Drone technology, equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and remote sensing features, is increasingly in demand due to its advantages. The central government has recognized the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), machine learning and artificial intelligence with their online “Digital Sky Platform”. Drone Startups in India took advantage of this opportunity to accomplish better technological capabilities.
Only after a complete recognition of the characteristics of drones, one can gain in-depth knowledge about agricultural drones. Typically, drones include a navigation system, GPS, multiple sensors, high-quality cameras, programmable controllers, and autonomous drone tools. Most farmers currently use satellite imagery as an introductory guide to farm management. Equipped with modern technology, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can obtain more accurate data than satellites for precision agriculture. They then process the captured data in agro-tech software to produce useful knowledge
Precision agriculture is a way for farmers to maximize the efficiency of water, fertilizers and pesticides to improve overall productivity, quality and yield.
Drones help farmers solve agricultural challenges in several ways:
IRRIGATION MONITORING: Drones, including hyperspectral, thermal or multispectral sensors, recognize areas that are too dry or need improvement by the farmer. The drone survey helps to improve water efficiency and reveal potential accumulations/leaks in irrigation by providing calculations of vegetation index irrigation monitoring yields to help achieve the crop health and heat/energy emitted.
AGRICULTURAL SPRAYING: With drone crop spraying, human contact with these harmful chemicals is limited. Agri-drones can perform this task much faster than vehicles/aircraft. Drones equipped with RGB sensors and multispectral sensors can identify and treat problem areas with precision. Professionals say aerial spraying is five times faster with drones compared to other methods.
CROP HEALTH MONITORING AND SURVEILLANCE: It is crucial to monitor vegetation health and spot bacterial/fungal plagues in the early stages. Agricultural drones can see which plants reflect different amounts of green light and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) light. This data helps produce multispectral images to track crop health. Prompt monitoring and discovery of any defects can help save crops. In the event of a crop failure, the farmer can also document the damage for specific insurance claims.
CROP DAMAGE ASSESSMENT: Agricultural drones equipped with multispectral sensors and RGB sensors also detect field areas inflicted by weeds, infections and pests. Based on this data, the exact quantities of chemicals needed to control these infestations are known, which helps to reduce the costs imposed on the farmer.
SOIL ANALYSIS IN THE FIELD: The drone survey allows farmers to get information about the soil condition of their land. Multispectral sensors capture useful data for seed planting patterns, in-depth field soil analysis, irrigation, and nitrogen level management. Precise photogrammetric/3D mapping allows farmers to thoroughly analyze their soil conditions.
PLANTING: Drone startups in India have invented drone planting systems that allow drones to project pods, their seeds, and essential nutrients into the soil. This technology not only reduces costs by nearly 85%, but also increases consistency and efficiency.
LIVESTOCK MONITORING – The drone survey allows farmers not only to track their crops, but also to monitor the movements of their livestock. Thermal sensor technology helps locate lost animals and detect injury or illness. Drones can perform this function favorably, which greatly contributes to the production of vegetation.
NEW SERVICE MODEL: The adoption of drones for data collection and application of agri-inputs is likely to trigger new service models in which agri-input companies can join drone operators and other supply chain actors. value to offer crop protection/nutrition as a paid service to farmers.
Agricultural drone technology is undoubtedly the future of the Indian agrarian community. It can transform traditional farming methods in countless ways. Even though this technology is more complex to master, it will yield results in no time once learned. Farmers need to understand the whole process. Determining the objectives, creating a balance between the drone and the software used, and becoming familiar with the principles of using this technology will be a challenge. Farmers will inevitably need extensive training or partnerships with third-party drone industry experts for reliable data acquisition. Drones have changed the course of getting data in almost every type of industry and will only get bigger and better in the years to come.