5 Best Drones for Agriculture in 2019  – Buying Guide for Beginners

5 Best Drones for Agriculture in 2019 – Buying Guide for Beginners

Are you looking for a drone for agriculture? Do you need serious farm equipment to help you monitor your crop and increase production?

If you do, then you are just on the right page. Well, don’t hesitate if you are considering this because agricultural drones are very useful.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group that represents drone producers predict that farms will eventually account for 80 percent of the commercial drone market. You’ll be behind your competitors if you still don’t get one for yourself.

HoneyCombe CEO Ryan Jenson also believes that drones will be very helpful for agriculture. He predicted that agriculture will be among the most active users of drone technology.

“Agriculture is expected to be the largest adopter of drone technology,” Jenson told DroneLife. “Given the impact that drone technology has already had in agriculture, we believe many farms across the country, and the world, will adopt the technology as a standard tool in their operations.”

I am very impressed with how drones help with agriculture, so I tried it. Take it from me, agriculture drones are a good investment. It is worth it!

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Best Drones for Agriculture

For those looking for the best drone to help them manage their farm, look no further, because I am here to help. I have tried several agricultural drones and those which make it into my list stand out. Are you ready!

Here are the best agriculture drones that will surely be a huge help to your crop production.

1. DJI Matrice 100

DJI Matrice is fitted with tools for precision agriculture. It is a highly personalizable medium-payload bearing professional flying device that is fast developing as an ideal agricultural drone for all types of farming applications due to its versatility.

Since this is customizable, it is very easy to depute it for different agricultural utilities. You can conveniently use this for drainage mapping, weed detection, and even crop analysis.

Another great thing about this drone is that it excels when it comes to flight time. This quad can fly up to 35 minutes. Its dual batteries can cover a single flight over a distance of 200 feet from a constant height of 400 feet which is beneficial for data mapping.

Also, you will enjoy flying this drone because it is very convenient to pilot thanks to its long-range remote controller. With the integrated DJI lightbridge, live HD viewing can be transmitted by the drone and accessed easily by the remote controller to monitor which area the drone is flying over. While the drone is within the range, the drone will quickly respond to your commands.

For a safer flight, this comes with a GPS module that makes it easier to track the device in real-time. Flight analysis and planning purposes can also be done using this module. This component is valuable to any applications.

As for its build, Matrice 100 has a strong structure. It is made using lightweight carbon fiber for a stiff and sturdy feel. The material and construction minimize vibrations that may affect the analysis and damage the internal electronic parts.

Its arms are fitted with damping materials, so the sensitive equipment and onboard sensors stay safe and in place in case there are abrupt and hard motor vibrations.

DJI also equipped this drone with additional hardware as a protrusion in each of its arms to ensure that the landing stays smooth and gentle and to avoid forceful movements. They also help protect the onboard devices during landing and ensures that there’s no damage during the entire process.

Overall, Matrice 100 is a great agricultural drone from its build, quality and performance. This is highly recommended.

PROS

  • Durable
  • Customizable
  • Long fight time
  • Flexible payload
  • Ready to fly
  • Obstacle sensing detection
  • Smooth landing and takeoff

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Camera, gimbal and vision sensors need to be purchased separately

2. PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5

Lancaster 5 from PrecisionHawk is a premium enterprise agricultural drone. This is the company’s fifth-generation UAV platform equipped with highly advanced data collection and flight safety capabilities.

This quad is a product of years of research and thousands of flight time tests. I can assure you that this is safer, smarter and stronger compared to the first four quads released.

Lancaster 5’s build and design are perfect for agricultural applications. First, this is built to last. The company wanted to deliver the best machine, so they combined the customer feedback and data they gathered from extreme weather, shock, and vibration test to bring you Lancaster 5, which is engineered to be 180{ea2cf71a94ac0ec497812eb0b7c2bc33f9b74ebf28048bb730380b7f1d9c4acc} more robust than its predecessor.

This quad can withstand hard landings on rugged terrain and unfavorable environmental field conditions which make it perfectly suited for various applications including agriculture, energy, insurance, forestry, and emergency management applications.

As for its performance, this is equipped with two embedded Linux processors. It houses a CPU dedicated for autopilot control and another one for mission and data management.

It also introduces a new level of onboard intelligence and flight control features that allow the UAV to adjust to various payloads and unpredictable environmental conditions ensuring optimal data collection with each survey.

Lancaster 5 comes with PrecisionsHawk’s new proprietary mission planning software, InFlight, which introduces a wide selection of intelligent operational capabilities that include enhanced situational awareness, smart battery swap, and integrated emergency options. The InFlight app increases overall operational efficiency in the field and allows users to fly this quad with ease and confidence.

This quad is high-performance and high-quality. It is also very durable which makes it a great equipment for farming.

PROS

  • 180{ea2cf71a94ac0ec497812eb0b7c2bc33f9b74ebf28048bb730380b7f1d9c4acc} more robust than its predecessors
  • Design is perfect for agricultural applications
  • Equipped with new proprietary mission planning software InFlight

CONS

  • Pricey

3. Sensefly eBee SQ

eBee SQ agricultural drone is a fixed wing drone. It captures actionable crop data across four multispectral bands with RGB imagery spanning hundreds of acres in a single flight.

If you want to monitor your farm, this will be very helpful because it has a calibrated multispectral imagery that provides reliable insights about the real health of your crops. In case there is an infestation, you will be able to stop it immediately to ensure that you are still in control of your farm.

eBee SQ is compatible with existing FMIs, AG machinery including eMotion AG software and workflow, so there is no need for you to reinvent how you work. eMotion AG is the connection hub of your drone operation. It connects your drone wirelessly to an online cloud solution.

Also, this is very easy to use thanks to its field-based planning. This quad can take on multi-flight projects and has a built-in Flight Data Manager to get the drone in the air quickly while minimizing the time spent planning flights and managing data.

PROS

  • Versatile
  • Available in low value-packed price
  • Compatible with existing FMIs
  • Can take on multi-flight projects
  • Has built-in flight data manager
  • Connects drone to online cloud solution
  • Four multispectral bands with RGB imagery

CONS

  • Requires minimal training

4. DJI Gras MG-1

Agras DJI Agras is specially created for the agricultural business. It has a precision variable rate application of liquid pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides to bring new levels of efficiency and manageability to your farm.

This octocopter has a powerful propulsion system that allows the aircraft to carry up to 10 kilograms of liquid payloads including pesticides and fertilizers. Due to its ability to carry a heavy payload, this quad is among the best heavy lift drones that we highly recommend.

Also, it flies really fast, which makes it an efficient drone for mapping. It combines speed and power which enables it to cover a 4,000-6,000 m² area in just 10 minutes. This works 40 to 60 times faster than manual spraying operations.

This drone is smart, too. It has intelligent spraying system that automatically adjusts its spray according to the flying speed so that even spray is always applied. Thanks to this feature, the amount of pesticide or fertilizer is precisely regulated to avoid pollution and economize operations.

This quad boasts for its accurate spraying capacity. Its spray nozzles can be chosen according to the properties of liquid to optimize atomization, energy efficiency and the amount of liquid spray. Its nozzles are interchangeable and resistant to wear. You can use it for thousands of hours without degradation. Meanwhile, the downward airflow generated by the propellers accelerates the spray and increases its reach.

That’s not all this comes with intelligent memory. In the case of depleted battery or spraying liquid, users can quickly land and resume the flight.

DJI understands that the environment on the farm makes the equipment susceptible to dust and corrosions. To maintain Agras’ reliability and longevity, this is designed with a sealed body and an efficient, integrated centrifugal cooling system.

As it flies, the surrounding air enters the aircraft body via the front inlet and a triple filter system keeps dust and debris from entering. The combination of cooling and filtering increases the expected lifespan of each motor by up to three times.

This also comes with foldable design which makes it more convenient to transport. Aside from the smart design, this has a light airframe because it’s made of durable high-strength carbon fiber. Thus, this can withstand harsh conditions.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with DJI Agras’ performance. This comes from the most trusted brand in the drone market, so I can confidently say that this works.

PROS

  • Foldable design
  • Interchangeable nozzles
  • Lightweight but durable
  • Has intelligent memory
  • Accurate spraying capacity
  • Impressive payload

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Short flight time when it has a heavy payload

5. AgEagle RX-48

AgEagle is dedicated to taking agriculture intelligence to the next level, so they bring high-performance drones with advanced aerial imaging data collection and analytics systems to commercial growers and consumer products companies.

The brand is determined to promote sustainable agriculture by empowering global consumer packaged goods companies to meet mission-critical sustainability goals and objectives. So, they designed their drone for precision farming to meet achieve their goals.

With its turnkey aerial data collection and analytics solutions, farmers and agronomists can acquire high-quality and actionable intelligence that may result in higher equipment efficiency, reduced crop damage, improved yield, less time on foot in the field and increased produce for increased profits.

AgEagle RX-48 is the smaller version of RX-60 but it is as reliable and rugged. This drone can cover a minimum of 250 acres per battery charge. Its powerful wing can be equipped with true NIR (Near Infrared) global shutter sensors that are capable of creating extremely accurate prescription maps for the application of chemicals and nutrients from a precision application tractor.

AgEagle is the only Ag UAV to offer version LTE data in-flight image transfer for rapid processing of aerial images. This means that while the RX-48 flies, images are transferred through the onboard LTD data system that makes the creation of prescription maps quick and automatic.

AgEagle offers precision farming with their drones to help you grow more food, use fewer resources, reduce costs and increase profits. I am very impressed with this drone because it delivers results. Thanks to this, you can start smart farming and see quantifiable results almost immediately.

PROS

  • Creates extremely accurate prescription maps
  • Quick and automatic creation of prescription maps
  • Supports smart farming
  • Delivers quantifiable results

CONS

  • Not all information about the drone is readily available
  • You have to contact AgEagle for more info about the drone, especially for the pricing plans.

What is an Agriculture Drone?

Agricultural drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle applied to farm in order to monitor crop growth and increase crop production. It has sensors and digital imaging capabilities that give farmers a richer picture of their fields to help them improve crop yields and farm efficiency.

There are different types of agriculture drones for field crop production the two most popular are rotary drones and fixed drones. However, there’s already a third type of drone that features both rotary and fixed wings and it’s called “hybrid.” Continue reading to know more of these drone types.

Rotary drones. Often identified by the number of rotors. An example of this would be the quadcopter with four rotors. These drones serve as an excellent tool for field crop operations. The downside with these drones is that it is drained more quickly because multiple propellers need more power.

Fixed wing drones. These quads work like airplanes. Most of them only have one propeller and their batteries tend to last longer with a flight time of up to 20 minutes or longer. In addition, they can reach greater speeds. The downside with these drones is that they require space to land similar to an airport runway.

Hybrid drones. These aircraft overcome the weakness of fixed wing drones by taking off and landing like a copter. However, it flies like fixed wing drones.

How Agricultural Drones Help Farmers

Agriculture drones give farmers a bird’s-eye view of their field to help them address several issues that can affect their produce like irrigation problems, soil variation and pest and fungal infestations.

The drone can help farmers survey their crops periodically. Thanks to these quads, it’s more convenient for farmers to assess the health of their crops. Drones for agriculture show multispectral images including near-infrared view and visual spectrum view. The combination shows the farmers the differences between the healthy and unhealthy plants which is not clearly visible to the naked eye.

In addition, this can help farmers do a frequent survey of their crops, which makes it easy and more convenient for them to see the trouble spots. Once the trouble spots are identified, farmers can now attempt to improve crop management and production.

That’s not all; using drones helps estimate crop damage from storms easier. These quads also help speed up the cleanup.

How to Choose the Best Agricultural Drone

Just like buying a regular drone, you also need to consider some factors when you are planning to buy a drone for your farm. However, in this section, I’ll only give you two things to consider – (1) flight time and (2) durability.

Flight time. Make sure that the drone you will buy has a long flight time to cover and map large fields. Also, consider the payload that the drone can carry and how it will reduce the flight time because normally when the drone carries a payload it can lessen its flight time.

Durability. The next important thing to consider is the build of the drone. Examine it closely and make sure that it is tenacious enough to handle the typical dirty environment of a farm and the heavy workload it demands.

Conclusion

Agricultural drones have been proven to be very helpful to farmers from monitoring their crops, spotting problems and stopping it before it worsens to increasing their crop production. I am very happy that there are drones that are manufactured for farming because they enable farmers to be more productive.

Have you tried any agricultural drones? What’s the best agriculture quad you have flown? If you have any recommendations, please feel free to share it with us.

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