Drones have become a visible asset in the US agricultural sector. Applications of drones range from the automatic early identification of diseased plants through tracking down poachers.
In an on-going survey, the magazine Farm Journal has to date questioned 1,094 US farmers. According to the survey, a third of farmers are already using drones and almost a third more plan to purchase one soon, while 37% state that they have no interest in the technology.
Experts see a key market for drones in the agricultural sector, with one application being the early identification of diseased crops: Through infrared images, diseased plants can be identified significantly earlier, because they reflect radiation differently to healthy plants; this enables farmers to act promptly. Farm Journal lists further sound reasons in favor of drones: Barn roofs and silos can be inspected without the risk of breaking a neck, thermal cameras can be used to locate missing cattle, and, last but not least, hunters can be caught.
In addition to these "rustic" activities, drones can also be used in the agricultural sector for highly sensitive tasks. For instance, scientist Eijiro Miyako from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan and his team have developed a drone that can pollinate plants just like a bee. In an article for the journal Chem, the researchers claim that by developing this drone to the point where it would be ready for mass production, it could help support the world’s endangered bee colonies.