November 23, 2020

Drone Applications for Agriculture

It is known that, in the last years, drone applications in projects across the globe have boomed. More specifically PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates the global market for drone applications at $127.3 billion (2016).

These studies forecast that consumption of agricultural products will increase by almost 70% by 2050. The reason for this increase is the growth of the human population.

In order to satisfy this demand, the agriculture industry must improve harvest yield, improve their productivity in delivering goods and maintain a friendly attitude towards the environment.

Drones can help the industry face these challenges. They are mostly used for analyzing the field, controlling and spraying the crop, and conduct quality checks. Drones are sophisticated tools for selecting valuable data for professionals.

The scope of this article is to provide business insights in the agriculture industry and highlight the importance of AI and drone applications for productivity and yield improvements.


Drone Applications for Agriculture

Gamaya is a company based in Switzerland that offers a high-end camera which can be mounted on a drone or a light-weighted aircraft. This hyperspectral tool can combine machine learning, distant sensing, along with technologies for cropping.

Gamaya highlights the most important characteristic of hyperspectral cameras which is the light reflection measurement by plants. It is important because plants have various physiologies give back different lighting. This means that stressors of plant growth can be monitored with these cameras.

The AI application combined with these cameras utilizes machine learning technologies to classify image data using an existing database of images. If the manager notifies a red colour, this means that soil is not efficient any more and corrective actions are needed. White colour indicates the existence of weeds on the crop and black stands for a healthy crop. This technology is something like a colour mapping for the status of the soil and the crops.

Businesses equipped with this kind of AI technology can map and separate weeds from plants. They can also monitor the stresses of plants if the plants aren’t getting enough nutrients, chemical data of the soil, and diseases.


AI empowered Drone Applications Results

Farms that have adopted the Gamaya technology have positive results to demonstrate when it comes to their crops.

Following you may see a few challenges that farms face:

• Identify which varieties of plants are more effective for cultivation. For example, in a specific field, Limargain seeds were not that efficient compared to Pioneer seeds.
• Low-yield efficiency expectations in various fields that result in huge losses. This happens to the lack of data regarding diseases, weeds status, and other crop-related problems.
• Nutrient insufficiencies over the soil of a farm, which eventually affect the production yield.

The mapping enabled Gamaya technology provides a few suggestions to the owners of farms:
• Spread the seeds based on the condition of the soil and distribution of nutrients in it.
• Continually control crop growth and the appearance of weeds and diseases to enhance crop yield.
• Use the correct amounts of fertilizer. This is based on data gathered regarding the conditions of the soil and needs of the crops.

The drone applications in combination with AI technologies, provide a significant increase in the harvest if the farm owner follows the system recommendations.

These results came from the K Farm in Brazil whereas the owner was facing some crucial issues with corn crop. The estimations about harvest volume increase were 10% in average, varying from 5%-30% for each part of the entire farm.

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