Agricultural drone

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An agricultural drone in a field performing the task of crop spraying

An agricultural drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle used in agriculture operations mostly in yield optimization and in monitoring crop growth and crop production. The aerial view provided by a drone can assists in the information of crop growth stages, crop health and soil variations in real time helping in any mitigation if required. Multispectral sensors can collect image in near-infrared as well as in visible spectrum of the electromagnetic spectrum.


As drones entered use in agriculture, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) encouraged farmers to use this new technology to monitor their fields. However, with the unexpected boom of agricultural drones, the FAA quickly retracted such encouragement, pending new rules and regulations. With incidents such as drones crashing into crop dusters, the FAA and the AFBF (American Farm Bureau Federation) began discussions to agree on regulations that would allow the beneficial use of such drones in a safe and efficient manner.[citations needed]

In 2016, the FAA published rules for commercial drone operations.[1] These rules require that commercial drone operators pass a knowledge exam, register their aircraft, and fly in accordance with published restrictions.[2] While satisfied overall with the rules, the American Farm Bureau Federation would like small adjustments to some of the restrictions that have been implemented.[citation needed]

Many countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, have implemented laws regarding the use of drones. The EU plans a common set of drone regulations for all of its members.[3] However, such laws are still nonexistent in many countries around the world, and 15 countries have outlawed all drone operations.[4]

Security and ethics[edit]

The use of agricultural drones has ethical and social implications. One benefit is that they are able to monitor and control the use of pesticides properly. This allows minimizing the environmental impact of pesticides. However, drones do not require permission to fly over another person's property at altitudes of under 400 feet (120 m). They may have microphones and cameras attached, and the resulting concern for potential privacy violation has caused some opposition towards drones.

Other companies might start flying their drones in unregulated areas to survey their competition and the condition of their crops and agricultural yield.

Future use[edit]

There is a large capacity for growth in the area of agricultural drones. With technology constantly improving, imaging of the crops will need to improve as well. With the data that drones record from the crops the farmers are able to analyze their crops and make educated decisions on how to proceed given the accurate crop information. Software programs for analyzing and correcting crop production have the potential to grow in this market. Farmers will fly a drone over their crops, accurately identify an issue in a specific area, and take the necessary actions to correct the problem.[5] This gives the farmer time to focus on the overall task of production instead of spending time surveying their crops. Additional uses include keeping track of livestock, surveying fences, and monitoring for plant pathogens.[6]

Both the purchase and maintenance costs of modern drones make them too expensive for small farms in developing nations. Pilot programs in Tanzania are focusing on minimizing those costs, producing agricultural drones simple and rugged enough to be repaired locally.[7]

Prominent drones[edit]

According to Business Insider, "agricultural drones are no different than other types of drones. The application of the UAV simply changes to fit the needs of the farmer. There are, however, several drones specifically made for agricultural use."[8]

  • Agras T16 from DJI
  • eBee SQ from senseFly
  • Quantix Mapper from Draganfly
  • Drone4Agro V3

See also[edit]


  2. ^ "Commercial Operations Branch – Part 107 UAS Operations". Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  3. ^ "Civil drones (Unmanned aircraft)". EASA. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  4. ^ "No Flying Allowed: The 15 Countries Where Drones Are Banned". UAV Coach. 2020-02-25. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  5. ^ "Africa Farming Problems Aided With Drone Technology - Drone Addicts". Drone Addicts. 2018-03-12. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  6. ^ Ehrenberg, Rachel (2018). "Eyes in the sky: 5 ways drones will change agriculture". Knowable Magazine. doi:10.1146/knowable-101118-3.
  7. ^ "Innovation in Africa: what next? | Africa Times". 2016-02-10. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  8. ^ Meola, Andrew. "Exploring agricultural drones: The future of farming is precision agriculture, mapping, and spraying". Business Insider.

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