The main utilities of drones in agriculture are the spatial precision with which the data is taken and the temporal availability of that data. In this article we present the main utilities of drones in agriculture.
We can find many potential applications of drones in agriculture:
- Efficient water management. Water stress in crops causes the closure of stomata, reducing transpiration and increasing the temperature of the leaves. This temperature increase can be monitored with thermal sensors. These sensors allow estimating the water needs of each plant so that the most adequate amount of water can be applied, with the consequent energy savings, especially if they are exploitations with groundwater.
- Localized treatments of herbicides. In most crops, treatments are carried out in the early stages, when the weeds and the crop are in a phenological seedling stage. In this state they have a very similar spectral response and appearance, so that for the treatment to be localized it is necessary to discriminate it according to the composition and density of the weeds.
- Optimal use of fertilizers. The detection of nutritional stress in crops, based on multispectral sensors allows the application of fertilizers only in the areas where it is necessary.
- Early detection of diseases and pests in crops. For example, the physiological changes that Verticillium disease causes in the olive grove can be detected in order to map the damage caused in early stages. With this information, control measures can be programmed that have an effect when the first olive trees are affected and the disease is still located in foci and does not affect the entire plot.
- Supervision of fumigated areas. The bird’s eye view that drone allows us is a tool for monitoring the actions we perform on our farms.
- Quality indicators in crops. The multispectral images obtained from a drone in combination with parameters measured in the field allow to obtain indicators of quality or production of the crops.
- Generation of crop inventories. Aerial observation has always been a powerful tool for the generation of crop inventories.
- Plant count. The plants grow with sunlight, so the farmer makes sure that the crops are sown in a way that allows them to obtain maximum sunlight. Plants that grow later than others can cause damage to the growth of those around them.