As farmers, our perspective of our farms is rather limited. On average, it is around 5’8’’ high and as far as our eyes can see on a given day. This limited viewpoint is great for seeing the very things in front of us but lacks the scope to see things beyond the obvious. That is why smart farm management calls for taking stock of our farm from other perspectives. Importantly, the sky.
Traditionally aerial imagery was accessible to only farmers with either access to a plane or by paying for specific satellite images of their farms. This meant that the majority of farmers were restricted to making important farming decisions from the ground only. With the invention of google earth came the ability to view your land from above but with no real detail and certainly although it is a neat thing to have, it was not able to provide the technical insight that farmers really wanted. Companies popped up here and there offering to do aerial sweeps of farm land and taking pictures, but these were location specific and not at all cheap. So even 10 years ago, for most farmers, seeing their farms meaningfully from above was out of the question.
With advancing technology, it has become incredibly easy to survey our farms from the air. A drone equipped with high definition camera equipment can be as little as $150. This allows farmers at its simplest level to assess their crops visually from above. On a more detailed level it allows them to do so much more. Finally, drones had provided farmers a cheap, effective way of managing their farms from the skies.
On a larger scale, there are big companies that will collate extensive imagery for individual farms, taking photos over time and using fine-tuned analysis to work out what is happening on the farms they’re monitoring and providing farmers with problems to be addressed in real time as the evolve. Ordinarily these companies use plane mapped data to work out the changes that are occurring over time. A prime example of this is as temperatures are showing a tendency to rise globally, this too is having a knock-on effect on agriculture. Farms that were once not reliant on high use of irrigation are becoming increasingly dependent on it. The images mapped show the effect the dry, warmer climate is having on farms and in some cases where irrigation changes have not been implemented you are able to literally see the recession of fertile fields gradually over time. Of course, those farmers that can afford to pay the companies to survey their land and also provide solid scientific feedback are saving acres of land that would otherwise fall foul of natural processes.
On a smaller scale, drones are becoming the saviours that farmers need in these difficult times. By using drones, farmers are able to monitor their own farms and without the additional cost. Some of the technology used to really hone in on the intricacies of image analysis in agriculture is expensive. On a cursory level though, drones are proving invaluable. Farmers can evaluate recessions of their fields simply by looking at pictures. They can then irrigate accordingly to prevent the soil drying out and becoming useless over time. The bigger analysis companies go into infinitely more detail than this and some precision farmers rave about how much value for money they get from using them. In our experience, it falls down to acreage. If your farm is large and expansive then it is likely the potential variation in yields and profits is greater. This means that using a big company could really save you thousands and increase profits and yields. On a smaller and more intimate scale the variation is likely to be lower due to crops being contained to fewer acres and the variation of the actual land and soil is significantly reduced. In these instances, a basic drone technique is fantastic and also likely to be the more cost-effective way of precision managing your farm.
Regardless of which option you choose, choosing an option is much better than standing back bone idle and not doing a thing. Simply staying on top of how your farm is evolving naturally over time means that you are giving yourself a head-start not only immediately, but also for years to come.
The big aviation companies insist that by simply monitoring your farms from the skies they make a difference of 10% to your gross annual figures. While we don’t like to verify such substantial claims we are certainly sure that it makes a difference. For little in the way of cost by using a drone with camera technology fitted you’re able to catapult your farm into the future. Using smart farm management and precision farming practices to make a solid and positive impact on your profit margins. Smart agriculture has become so readily available, with new and exciting techniques being further developed over time it is only a matter of time before the guesswork your fathers used or worse; superstition to manage crops, becomes a thing of the long gone past.
Have you used aerial tech? Let us know your thoughts!