Precision agriculture is the practice of growing crops using highly advanced technology, such as geospatial techniques and sensors. This type of agriculture has been practiced for a long time now. It is usually done using GPS technology that utilizes images from satellites to study variations in the state of the crops and to study the condition of the soil. However, there are certain problems in making the use of this technology, such as:
· The cost of satellite imaging is extremely high and this is why not all the farmers can use it quite often to assist them in farming.
· The availability of this technology is also limited which is one of the major hindrances in the implementation of this technology.
The geospatial technology available in the past was limited to large machinery, such as crop-dusters and other planes. This made it mandatory that a technology more apt for farmers was developed, and it came in the form of the drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The advantages of drones as an assistant in precision agriculture are quite plenty.
· The images taken using a drone are from a low altitude. You must know that according to FAA no unmanned aerial system can fly 120 meters or 400 feet above the ground. This makes it perfect for taking images required for agricultural purposes.
· The drones remain below the clouds so this also proves to be beneficial in providing clear images of the field, making the assessment of the crops and soil both easier and more precise.
· The cost of the single use of satellite imaging goes above $ 1000 whereas an agricultural drone costs way less than that. So, it is extremely cost effective to use drones for the precision agriculture.
· The quality of the pictures taken from a drone is way better as they have high resolution cameras that offer better contrast.
The use of drones in agriculture is already taking place and many farmers have resorted to this extremely cost effective and useful technology. There still remains scope of improvement when it comes to the use of drones in agriculture. Some of the areas that require a bit of work include:
· Platform design
· Establishing standards in image georeferencing as well as ortho mosaics
· The way in which the information is extracted
However, it is important that developments are made keeping the farmers in mind. In fact, if the farmers are folded into the development process then it will deliver amazing results and the agricultural sector is going to benefit immensely from it.
It is a time of technological boom as far as agriculture is concerned. Gone are the days when farmers were technologically illiterate. Today the farmers are not only using the latest technology to increase their produce but are also helping engineers and scientists in developing new tools and methods of farming.