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Question about the usefulness of drones in production agriculture?
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Posted 2/3/2020 14:57 (#8018810 - in reply to #8002139)
Subject: RE: Question about the usefulness of drones in production agriculture?

SE Iowa
The main problem is the amount of bias from your side. Here's my side (from my username it's obvious what side I'm on)

"Not practical at all and nearly as far away from reality today as 5 years ago." - quadcopters have become reliable drones that can fly 20+ minutes for $1000 and survey 160 acre piece of land in sub-20 minutes with a map at the fields edge. We didn't have that 5 years ago, so I would say this is progress.

"If you want to build zones or apply nitrogen you dont want cm resolution. 5-10meter is going to be much better for these kinds of tasks. Plane based can do stand counts too." - You will want high res data and then downsample. If you had an equipment failure or something affecting a specific row of crop, you don't want that data blended in. But then you throw in that planes can do stand counts... so can drones. Usually earlier. But neither drones or manned aircraft will get it in the timeliness that a grower wants, but at least a drone can be sent out when you want to try it.

"Then the time to gather and process this data is big. And to process numerous and high resolution means big software which means big computer. A plane can get higher and use a single image for a whole field. A satellite can get sub foot resolution in a civilian system." - No... it's not anymore. Yes, in 2015 that was the issue. but now with cloud processing and field edge processing you can get a high-res map at the fields edge (with just an ipad).

"A drone is great for curiosity and then go look from the ground. Scouting tool. They are good cheap aircraft to do r&d on things on a lower budget. Great for small scale quick turn around testing and tweaking. They would let a grower go look at a small handful of fields, but not the whole farm. When things get figured out, scale it up and put it on a manned aircraft." - typically that is backwards. Manned aircraft have had high megapixel imagers for a little while, and they have been downsizing payloads to get on unmanned aircraft. Same goes for thermal and lidar sensors. But it is true, drones are easier to test out a product compared to manned aircraft.

"But my overall summary is a drone just can't compete with a plane on so many levels when it comes to any amount of volume of work. Can use any drone sensor TODAY on a plane, not maybe 5 years from now. Can use larger, better, more numerous sensors on a plane. A plane can fly at 50ft or 25000ft depending on what your after. Can go 50mph or 350mph. I know a guy that has gone out and imaged 2-3 million acres in 1 day and has the software/computer to turn those images into vrt prescriptions by the next morning. That's actionable!" - lol did you just say someone wrote 2-3 million acres worth of Rx's in one day? I'd never trust what that guy is putting together. Just because your equipment can gather that much data doesn't mean it's useful.

Imagery (manned or unmanned) require physical boots on the ground. Just because a plane can cover that much ground doesn't mean it's better. That average person using a drone is wanting imagery of 2-3 fields/day (maybe more in the heat of the season). With the technology of drones, this is possible.

Come on. It may not be 2025, but it isn't 2015 anymore.

Edited by dronedude 2/3/2020 20:13
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