Posted 5/4/2021 22:49 (#8987974 - in reply to #8987630) Subject: RE: Photo of Rantizo spray drone
Every drone company I've talked to at precision ag events the last 5-6 years or so has unrealistic hypothetical commercial productivity estimated figures. None want to put any part of their systems into current actual commercial environment if it didnt revolve 100% with their drone and the whole package.
On the spraying aspect, clearly none of them have commercial spray experience of any kind ground or air. I've talked to other aerial applicators that say the same things as I do. They all say the drone guys should come out and spend a few days with us and that would solve alot of their problems.
Many of the tasks they say current aerial can't do, we have had the ability to do since the mid to late 90s when gps really came in. I flew 2 of the first 10 units in 95 that were satellite differential. Did shp work in 98. Auto spray on/off by shp file in 08. Anything shapefiled and on/off targeted apps we have been capable of doing. Granted most have not done them, but that's only because growers have not known about, or didn't want to take the time or are unwilling to pay for.
I think at some point drones will spray everything, but it will be one of the last things to go driverless on a farm. It's one of the most complex things there is to do, it's 3D. Its all within inches of hard objects at fast speeds. There is the existing federally controlled airspace system. Everything else is 2D and operates at slower speeds and is less expensive. I think this is years and decades off. Reguardless of opinions of actual time-frame, current drones are probably headed towards fields with LOTS of obstacles in them and around them, odd shaped, steep, less than 20-30 acres, probably less than 15 acres. Places airplanes and helicopters just can't/shouldn't or just are not efficient. Any field relatively flat or gently rolling and open and 40+ acres, there is no competition. None. You can look at a plane vs a helicopter in wc mn, there really is no competition there. Airplanes will work circles around a helicopter. Now get into lakes country and that helicopter starts coming into the equation and may exceed a plane. Or a helicopter may just be chosen because it can stay out of sight better to not disturb the citiots at the lake. They just don't carry a load, don't have the swath, and are more expensive to maintain. The volume of acres there are to do in the U.S. and the limited window to realistically do the jobs factoring in the weather just doesn't fit a drone or even a swarm of drones. Now if you want to go out and do some R & D or small test plots with a drone and prove a concept that is another place for a drone. Things that conventional aerial ag is not good at or don't want to take the time or risk of messing up large volume jobs. When I crank up a $500k-1.6m dollar turbine, I need to be bringing in $1k-2k dollars per hour or I'm going backwards or doing it hoping that it brings large volume work later.