Unmanned aerial vehicles have quickly entered our daily reality. And if a few years ago a flying drone in the sky gathered the attention of passers-by, nowadays the propeller making sounds is just another component of the city noise.
But while for many spheres a drone is only a promising tool that can improve the efficiency of the company, for the agricultural sector, instead of the question “Do you use drones?”, the following questions come up more and more often: “Which drones to use?”, “How often to survey the fields?”, “What other crop data can be collected?”, and this gives some insight towards the importance of drones in agriculture, in the near future.
In trying to analyse the business impact of drones in agriculture, one must look at the numbers. According to MarketsandMarkets, the market for agricultural drones is estimated at about $800 million, and by 2022 it is expected to grow to $4.2 billion. The results of the Zion Research analysis are somewhat restrained and state that by 2021 the market for drones will increase to $2.978 billion. But, regardless of the financial results, all analysts agree that the agricultural drone market is expecting significant growth. Thus, according to the AgFunder, in 2015, the capitalization of companies focused on attracting drones to agricultural production increased by 189%. These are exciting figures that make for a promising future for the agricultural drones market.
Agriculture drones are endless in their impact. They can replace functions previously served by satellites, manned aerial aircraft, ground machinery, and manual labour. The technological disruption of agriculture drones transforms the efficiency of agricultural productivity through optimising land utilisation while reducing input factors such as labour, water, and agricultural chemicals.
Below are some examples of the business impact agriculture drones can deliver.
Compared to satellite or manned aircraft, imaging by agriculture drones is comparatively less expensive for fields smaller than 20 hectares and can capture higher resolution images with less aerial obstruction
Agriculture drones can cover photographic to hyperspectral imaging in a single pre-programmed flight, with real-time feedback for field zone management. Image frequency is a factor that also renders agriculture drones more cost efficient in the long run.
Spraying by agriculture drones is estimated to save up to 90% of water usage for irrigation and could save between 30% to 50% of chemicals in crop spraying
Remote controlled agriculture drones expose operators to fewer chemicals. Agriculture drones are estimated to improve efficiency by between 40x to 60x compared to manual labour, and up to 5x faster than tractor application of pesticides.
On the one hand, these figures show the general interest of the agricultural community, and on the other hand, they themselves increase this interest. Such a “self-heating” market indicates that it will only grow. And maybe even an unexpected expansion will take place leaving those who are sceptical of the technology behind.
And so, if you are wondering when to start using drones for your agricultural needs, then the only correct answer will be “Now!”
Source: IPSOS Business Consulting