Our local equipment co-operative may be looking at purchasing a drone within the next year.
A little about the cooperative...it's made up of roughly 150 producers across 2 counties in an area that's fairly challenging to farm and is at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to goods and services. I'm sure lots of folks feel they're in the same situation...
This cooperative was formed as an equipment sharing not-for profit organization to give us a bit of an edge to offset our challenges. Originally started off with a brillion seeder, land leveller and dump trailer I believe...these were rented out at low rates to members. Over the years the inventory of machinery has grown to 75+ pieces together worth in excess of $1M, rental organization and light maintenance is all volunteer, while major repairs are hired out. Gear purchases were made with rental incomes and eventually we became eligible for grant money to help accelerate growth.
Most of the producers that rent equipment are Dairy (60-80 cows) and beef (20-70 cows), so all fairly small scale but it does contribute to our local economy. Most crop production is forages and corn silage, growing season is short, corn is usually hard pressed to get planted by June 1.
Anyways...it looks like we may have an opportunity to get some funding (50%) for a drone, I have experience with drones on my own farm, but mostly for checking cows...I'm thinking we should spring for a pretty decent and hardy one with thermal imaging, mapping and such.
One question I have is What all can a drone do for us and how to justify purchase?
Another question is what drone would be ideal for this situation? Cost it not really a big issue as it's more about giving local producers a competitive edge...I priced a DJI matrice 100 with visual and multispectoral sensors/cameras at $13K and that is probably well within budget. I just don't really know what's out there and what I should be looking for. Mavic Enterprise and P4 multispectoral are others I looked at.
What would be your ideal drone and setup? features, software, accessories?
I personally hold a drone pilot certificate and I'm sure others would be willing to get theirs, but we would certainly limit the number of users.