“Drone” and “UAV” have been big buzzwords in the precision agriculture community during the past few years. Even major media publications such as Fortune and Bloomberg, just to name a couple, have taken notice of the impact that drones are poised to have on the precision agriculture industry. Last week I attended the InfoAg conference in St. Louis, Missouri to get a firsthand look at the new technologies and feedback being presented by agriculture companies, agronomists, and others – including information on the future of UAVs in agriculture.
One of my biggest takeaways from the conference regarding drone in farming was that although UAVs are not a new technology, they are still regarded as a novelty in some circles and some people are hesitant to utilize them. Now, that’s not to say that some growers, crop consultants, and the like haven’t already embraced this technology, but it seems that some farmers and their advisors are unsure of how to integrate drones into their existing operations. One of the speakers, Chad Colby, made a valid comparison of how even five to ten years ago it was the same story with other technologies. Growers couldn’t imagine using cell phones or tablets as part of their growing process but nowadays it’s standard practice to manage all of their farm data across multiple platforms. I believe that the same will happen with drones.
The benefits of drones in agriculture have already been talked about extensively and the bottom line is that UAVs will help farms operate more efficiently by allowing them to more closely monitoring resource needs and usage, among a variety of other capabilities. Marc Vanacht of Ag Business Consultants expounded on the benefits of UAV technology during his speaking session, reiterating that UAVs excel in areas that matter to growers and was confident UAV weaknesses such as range and payload would be quickly resolved in near-future generations. So in the next few years, don’t be surprised if you see UAVs becoming a fixture on farms.