Precision farming with drones in Spain
The question of how can farmers can effectively use drones to improve crop management is fast becoming a hot topic. In order to address this increasingly important issue, Dow AgroSciences came together with the University of Seville and Agrosap to deliver a course on ‘The application of Drones in Precision Agriculture’.
The course offered attendees the opportunity to understand the feasibility of agricultural drones and to assess the advantages of integrating them into a precision agriculture strategy.
Daniel Giraldo, Course Director and Sales Manager at Dow AgroSciences in Sevilla (Spain), summarised the key insights gleaned from the course.
1. The advantages of using agricultural drones.
Though agricultural drones are not a solution in themselves, Giraldo recommends their use as part of an integrated strategy alongside other precision farming tools, such as performance monitors, moisture sensors and precision fertilizers.
Properly managed, agricultural drones can offer the following benefits:
- Cost savings – e.g. the consumption of diesel and the optimisation of data inputs that highlight potential problems e.g. diseases, water shortages, pests and weeds
- Reduced environmental impact – g.reduced consumption use of diesel fuel and more effective soil erosion management and increasing the optimization of inputs
- Increased access – of difficult-to-reach areas such as saturated fields
- Information management
2. Getting the most out of drones on a daily basis.
“Precision farming is being applied at many levels within overall agricultural strategies. This enables us to use the data provided from numerous sources to enable farmers and agronomists to make better decisions”, says Daniel Giraldo.
Specifically drones enable farmers to obtain valuable information on:
- Normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI). This provides nutritional stress data through an infra-red sensor making nutrient management more efficient
- Water stress data via thermal sensors enabling more efficient water management
- Early detection of diseases, weeds and pests (e.g. the red spider on corn)
- Supervision of crop areas
- Generation of inventories of crop areas
3. The role of precision agriculture in the future.
Looking ahead, Daniel Giraldo believes that “all data obtained from the different tools of precision agriculture will be consolidated and transformed into simple recommendations for the farmer and agronomist. In turn this will drive huge changes in farm management to provide cost savings and increased profitability”.
In conclusion, it’s clear that we’re entering a new era of agriculture in which new technologies such as drones will play a vital role in the delivery of successful agricultural strategies.