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AGRICULTURAL DRONES AND FARMING DRONES

Farms and ranches in the US are the most productive they’ve ever been. American growers feed the world, and they need the best tools to keep adding more output per acre as demand for high quality, nutritious crops expands rapidly. Using agricultural drones (aka UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles) is the next logical step in the progression of increased yields and decreased costs, so let’s explore some of the ways you can use the sensors these farming drones carry for advanced precision agriculture.

WHAT IS PRECISION AGRICULTURE?

Precision Agriculture is the science of using data and sensors to take specific actions on your field at the right time. In the past, growers had to rely on rules of thumb or generalizations about the time of year and crop conditions to apply pesticides, fertilizers and other soil prescriptions. Now, by using agriculture drones and their instant data gathering capabilities, you can diagnose problems, estimate yields, and apply exact amounts of the correct product at the perfect time. All this information gathered by your precision ag drone helps you get the best possible harvest at the lowest costs.

 

How Much Do I Need to Spend?

Drones with visual spectrum (traditional) cameras such as the DJI Phantom 4 Pro with a 20 mp camera are a great choice for 1st level inspection and mapping.  When you’re ready to invest in a weather tolerant, professional drone like the DJI Matrice M210, you can purchase a base unit and expand as your needs change. The beauty of the Matrice series drones is their modularity, so purchasing an agriculture-specific NDVI camera for $1,199 allows for a 10-second swap between visual and near-IR imaging.  You can also add the professional Rededge-M for multispectral imaging.  We rent and sell every drone we carry, contact us for rental or purchase when you are ready.

How Agricultural Drones Fit Into the Precision Ag Ecosystem

Drones supplement other precision agricultural collection methods (like the sensors in your planter, harvester, and irrigation systems) by providing both the “big picture” and the “small picture.”

Overview mapping of the “Big Picture”

To get the “big picture”, we see our clients buy or rent a farming drone to get detailed, high-resolution maps of their entire farm or ranch using multiple smaller photos and image-stitching software from companies like Drone Deploy or Precision Hawk. Once these georeferenced, orthomosaic maps are created, growers can get an overview and look for problem spots right away. Ranchers will often use these larger images to see where patches have become over-grazed and need time for recovery.

Close-Up Problem Solving of the “Small Picture”

When a problem spot is identified, you can then use an ag drone to look at a specific spot on the field by descending to just a few feet above the problem area and recording close-up pictures and video to determine the next steps. Modern farming drones have such excellent cameras that individual weeds can be identified using this technique. Moreover, with live-video control ranges of around 4 miles, almost every farm in the US can be scouted and mapped by a single ag drone each.

Beyond-Visual Imaging Overview

With farming drones and UAVs that use traditional cameras (i.e. “RGB” sensors for red, green, blue), you can replace expensive manned aircraft and helicopter flights that could cost thousands of dollars per hour. With agricultural-specific sensors like an NDVI-modified camera, you can replace beyond-visual imaging that was once only possible through satellite imaging.

What is NDVI?

NDVI is an acronym that refers to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. Subtracting the data of an image taken with a traditional RGB camera sensor from an image taken using a sensor that can see into the infrared spectrum (“near-IR”, but still invisible to our eyes) yields an entirely new image that shows the overall health of a plant. Depending on the species of crop, NDVI drones combine individual portions of the near-IR and visible spectra to show areas where irrigation, fertilization, pests or disease are causes for concern. Healthy plants and stressed plants that look identical to the naked eye reflect differently in the near-infrared spectrum. This unique facet of NDVI imaging with drones means that you can detect and prevent problems well before the season’s output is impacted.

More than just diagnosing problems, you can use an NDVI drone to predict harvest yields much sooner than has been possible before. This fascinating case study shows that just 42 days after planting the scientists were able to predict the results of the different treatments applied. This ability has powerful implications for pricing or futures contracts, insurance, labor and equipment planning, as well as your general peace of mind. Combined with regular, automated flights and integration into your existing software and sensor data, NDVI imaging from agricultural drones has the potential to completely transform your approach to farming.

Agricultural Drone Options

To start out, we suggest renting an easy-to-use drone like the Phantom 4 Pro. It has a visual spectrum camera and you can use a variety of mapping apps such as drone deploy to perform automated flight planning missions.

Once you decide to try beyond visual spectrum imaging, the Matrice M210 series is your best bet. You can attach and remove cameras as your needs change. Powered by one or two batteries, the Matrice 210 brings very flexible flight time and payload combinations. We recommend the M210 with NDVI bundle {need link} that includes a high-resolution camera modified for NDVI imaging.

For larger farms, 500 acres and above, you’ll want a longer flight time drone. The ebee Sensefly and the Quantum Systems Trinity both fly longer and faster than a traditional quadcopter and are purpose-built with aerial surveying of farms in mind. These fixed-wing ag drones can take images of areas several times larger than a small DJI model. The Trinity, for example, can fly up to 90 minutes on a single charge, covering an area of over 3,000 acres at 5 cm/pixel resolution. It can also carry a high mp RGB visual camera and the multi-spectral Rededge-M simultaneously, saving you from doing 2 separate flights of the same area.  Because it takes off and lands like a traditional multicopter, you don’t need any special runways or catching equipment and you don't need a large take-off and landing area. The Quantum Trinity is the perfect way to complete a drone survey of even the largest farms.

On Sale

55 items found in Agriculture

Corning microHSI 410 SHARK Hyperspectral Sensor
Corning microHSI 410 SHARK Hyperspectral Sensor

Sensor

  • $35,000.00
MicaSense - Quick Mount Kit Gen 2 for DJI
MicaSense - Quick Mount Kit Gen 2 for DJI

Accessories

  • $599.00
GPC - DJI Phantom 4 Pro/Pro+ Compact Carrying Case
GPC - DJI Phantom 4 Pro/Pro+ Compact Carrying Case

Cases

  • $199.00
DJI - Part 2 Matrice 200 Intelligent Flight Battery TB50
DJI - Part 2 Matrice 200 Intelligent Flight Battery TB50

Battery

  • $195.00
RedEdge-MX by Micasense
RedEdge-MX by Micasense

Sensor

  • $5,500.00
Parrot Sequoia+ Multi-spectral Sensor
Parrot Sequoia+ Multi-spectral Sensor

Sensor

  • $3,500.00
UGS-1 Drone Spreader
UGS-1 Drone Spreader

Accessories

  • $4,599.00
Plant Mapping with Drones Masterclass
Plant Mapping with Drones Masterclass

  • $397.00
Calibrated Reflectance Panel
Calibrated Reflectance Panel

Accessories

  • $550.00
UGS-2 Drone Spreader - Circuit
UGS-2 Drone Spreader - Circuit

Accessories

  • $375.00
UGS-2 Drone Spreader - Controller
UGS-2 Drone Spreader - Controller

Accessories

  • $150.00
UGS-2 Drone Spreader - Matrice 600 attachment kit
UGS-2 Drone Spreader - Matrice 600 attachment kit

Accessories

  • $180.00
UGS-2 Drone Spreader
UGS-2 Drone Spreader

Accessories

  • $2,735.00
GPC - DJI Matrice 600 Battery Case
GPC - DJI Matrice 600 Battery Case

Cases

  • $319.00
Altum Kit by Micasense
Altum Kit by Micasense

Sensor

  • $9,950.00
DJI - Matrice 200 Quadcopter V2
DJI - Matrice 200 Quadcopter V2

Drone

  • $7,290.00
Altum Kit + DJI Skyport by Micasense
Altum Kit + DJI Skyport by Micasense

Sensor

  • $12,650.00
Blue Skies Matrice 210 Power Supply for Accessories
Blue Skies Matrice 210 Power Supply for Accessories

Accessories

  • $125.00
Parrot Bluegrass Agricultural Quadcopter
Parrot Bluegrass Agricultural Quadcopter

Quadcopter

  • $4,500.00
RedEdge-M Mount for Matrice 200 Series
RedEdge-M Mount for Matrice 200 Series

Accessories

  • $449.00
Quantum Systems - Trinity - Survey Payload Compartment (SPC) Sony UMC 21mp, 16mm
Quantum Systems - Trinity - Survey Payload Compartment (SPC) Sony UMC 21mp, 16mm

Sensor

  • $2,299.00
Drone Deploy
Drone Deploy

Software

  • From $1,188.00

Sold out

MicaSense RedEdge-M
MicaSense RedEdge-M

Sensor

  • $4,900.00
Quantum Systems - Trinity F90+
Quantum Systems - Trinity F90+

Fixed Wing

  • $16,900.00
UGS-4G Drone Spreader - Power conversion kit
UGS-4G Drone Spreader - Power conversion kit

Accessories

  • $375.00
UGS-4G Drone Spreader - Circuit
UGS-4G Drone Spreader - Circuit

Accessories

  • $375.00
UGS-4G Drone Spreader - Controller
UGS-4G Drone Spreader - Controller

Accessories

  • $150.00
UGS-4G Drone Spreader
UGS-4G Drone Spreader

Accessories

  • $3,735.00
SlantRange - Precision Navigation Module
SlantRange - Precision Navigation Module

Sensor

  • $2,250.00
SlantRange - 4P+ Sensor System
SlantRange - 4P+ Sensor System

Sensor

  • $5,750.00
SlantRange - 4P Sensor System
SlantRange - 4P Sensor System

Sensor

  • $4,950.00
Blue Skies Quick Release Mount + Antenna Mast for Sensors
Blue Skies Quick Release Mount + Antenna Mast for Sensors

Accessories

  • $229.00
Blue Skies Quick Release Mount for Sensors
Blue Skies Quick Release Mount for Sensors

Accessories

  • From $149.00
Aerialtronics - Altura Zenith ATX8 Battery
Aerialtronics - Altura Zenith ATX8 Battery

Battery

  • $999.00
Quantum Systems - Trinity F9 - Payload Compartment with Micasense Rededge-MX
Quantum Systems - Trinity F9 - Payload Compartment with Micasense Rededge-MX

Sensor

  • $6,900.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9
Quantum Systems - Tron F9

Fixed Wing

  • $53,900.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Front Fuselage
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Front Fuselage

Fixed Wing

  • $1,799.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - V-Tail
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - V-Tail

Fixed Wing

  • $1,059.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Rear Fuselage
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Rear Fuselage

Fixed Wing

  • $2,149.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Wing - Right
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Wing - Right

Fixed Wing

  • $2,099.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Wing - Left
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Wing - Left

Fixed Wing

  • $2,099.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9- Spare Parts - Battery Charging Station
Quantum Systems - Tron F9- Spare Parts - Battery Charging Station

Fixed Wing

  • $1,139.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Battery Packs
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Battery Packs

Fixed Wing

  • $2,299.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Nacelle
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 - Spare Parts - Nacelle

Fixed Wing

  • $6,599.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 Payload - Suveyor Ultra Lidar
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 Payload - Suveyor Ultra Lidar

Fixed Wing

  • $154,000.00
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 Payload - Suveyor Lidar
Quantum Systems - Tron F9 Payload - Suveyor Lidar

Fixed Wing

  • $109,000.00
Quantum Systems - Tron Payload - Combined Payload Compartment (CPC) Option
Quantum Systems - Tron Payload - Combined Payload Compartment (CPC) Option

Fixed Wing

  • $29,999.00
Quantum Systems - Tron payload - Agriculture Payload Compartment (APC) – Multispectral Camera
Quantum Systems - Tron payload - Agriculture Payload Compartment (APC) – Multispectral Camera

Fixed Wing

  • $23,499.00