Imagine waking up to find that Mother Nature cursed your crop with monsoon-like rains, writes Karli Petrovic on GrowingProduce.com. Despite some last-minute weather reports, there was only so much you could do before the devastating flood.
That’s precisely what happened to a North Carolina tobacco farmer, who dealt with severe washout problems following a similar weather incident. The damage was so bad, the farmer couldn’t drive a truck into the affected areas. This essentially left him blind, unable to access the damage. Fortunately, there was a technological solution.
“He could put a drone up before he could drive out,” explains Bobby Vick, solutions engineer at commercial drone-and-data company PrecisionHawk. “This him to make a decision about what was salvageable, the new yield potential for the field, and how and where to target any crop inputs for the remainder of the season.”
An Obvious Benefit
Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles are influencing the agriculture sector more than ever before. PrecisionHawk has been there since the beginning, first building the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) before focusing on the software and data collection components. The company’s bread and butter has always been the agricultural market. Although it primarily worked with farmers of agronomic crops like tobacco, soybeans, and corn, the fruit and vegetable farmers eventually came calling.
Financially, this makes perfect sense. Since high-value and high-input specialty crops force growers to spend more to make more, Vick explains, producers massively increase their profits if they can increase their overall productivity and efficiency.
“Drones have the obvious benefit of enabling farmers to see their crops in a way they couldn’t traditionally, faster than ever before,” Vick says. “The drone can scan each square inch of the field, and the grower can have the imagery back in a couple of hours. It wouldn’t be feasible to do that by hand.”