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AgEagle shares their thoughts on Precision Agriculture

AgEagle helps farmers maximize crop yield (and profits) through Precision Agriculture

We reached out to AgEagle to learn a bit about their business and about precision agriculture.

Q. Your site notes that you can help farmers increase their yields, how so?

A farmer can now see the condition of his crops over the entire field instead of just a couple of walk about spots. The images can be converted into prescription maps, so if there is a crop condition that has a remedy (insect infestation, mold, etc) the map can be exported to the applicator and the chemical will only have to be applied where it’s needed and not over all the field.

This leads to focused treatments which leads to increased profits and less environmental impact, Also, a image of a health crop lets the farmer know that he’s taking the right measures; An affirmation of good decision making.

Q. I grew up in Vermont in a family filled with farmers, many of who were (and are) not up on precision agriculture or other technologies. Is this a challenge for you in this area?

Somewhat of a challenge, but not all farms would need UAVs. Also, the farmer needs to have the right UAV for their operation. Farmers need to study and learn about the technology and not just buy the coolest, cheapest, slickest unit they stumble across.

For example, Vermont has lots of small fields, surround by hills and trees, so the AgEagle would NOT be the right platform since it’s designed to cover the huge fields of the Midwest. I would suggest a farmer look for a multi-rotor, usually one with more than four motors for heavier lift capacity, longer flight time, better wind handling and, should one motor fail, the ship and limp back home or make an emergency landing whereas a quad copter would crash.

Q. What types of drones are typically used in precision agriculture?

Our systems are all fixed wing, designed to cover as many acres possible in a single flight usually 240-300 acres per charge, flying at 400 ft at 33-35 MPH. Also, the AgEagle flying V shaped wing can penetrate winds that would ground typical styled platforms.

Other clients may use a multi-rotor craft such as a quadcopter. While multi rotors have fairly short flight times, they are perfect for spot checking crop problem areas, irrigation systems, water flow, elevated inspections of equipment (such as elevator grain handling bearings) and other applications.

It’s safe to say that “one size fits all” is not true when it comes to agriculture UAVs. No farmer would use one tractor to do heavy field work, then use it to to mow the lawn!

Q. What industry is most quickly adopting this technology?

Farming is moving quite rapidly for a number of reasons;

  • It’s the most efficient way to check crop conditions covering 10s of millions of acres.
  • Safety – The very nature of the rural area makes operations quite safe for least probability of harm to property or persons.
  • Cost – The price to own or hire someone to image crops is below that of manned aircraft and more current and timely than satellite.
  • Time sensitive – UAVs can operate when the farmer needs information rather than waiting days for typical aerial images.
  • Resolution – The images captured by small UAVs can be processed and quickly converted to prescription field maps. Resolution levels of single images can be 1 pixel = 1-3 cm. Combined mosaic images can be a good as 8-12 cm per pixel.

Right behind farming will be mining/construction surveys.

Q. Do you have a video or two you could share of your technology in action?

I would recommend you visit our YouTube Channel.

Here is a link to a Discover Channel story on a team of storm chasers who use our wings to intercept tornadoes. The Sirens Project.

Q. What other questions should I have asked you about AgEagle or Precision Agriculture?

Just to elaborate a bit more on a couple of other topics:

We see the cost of UAVs to remain fairly steady, but what will change are the sensors and who does the processing of the data. UAVs capture so much data right now, it is very time consuming to process the images and it takes a fairly good computer to do so. Time is money in the farming world and the longer it takes to be time sensitive information, the less value that information has. Crops don’t wait, neither do insects, mold, etc. That’s why AgEagle partnered with Drone Deploy to process images while in flight so farmers could crop scout within minutes of flying the field. However, to have the technical ability to do so costs money, about 11 cents per acre. Some companies will just process images for the flier, so the flier can keep his bird in the air, then those images are sent directly to the farmer.

Sensors will change. Growers have a mistaken belief that one camera should cover all light bands, take temperatures, video, First Person View, etc., and do so for the price of a consumer pocket camera. That’s technically possible but the aircraft required to carry all that equipment and related telemetry will not come cheap. The more high quality data required, the higher the price.

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