The company’s Commander drones will be used for phenotyping and other data collection
By Diego Flammini
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has chosen which drone manufacturer it will use for some aerial applications.
Draganfly, a company headquartered in Saskatoon, Sask., Canada, will provide its Commander drones to the USDA for phenotyping and other data collection and analysis tasks.
The Commander’s “dual battery system powers 35-minute flight times, making it ideal for capturing high resolution imagery from various sensors during long-and-low flights,” Draganfly’s website says.
The USDA contacted Draganfly about doing business together.
“It was an inbound enquiry from the USDA based on the fact we’ve been around a while and that we’re a North American manufacturer,” Cameron Chell, CEO of Draganfly, told Farms.com. “Draganfly is honored to work (with USDA).”
The use of drones in agriculture has expanded widely over the years.
While drones and other UAVs were once used mainly for surveying and mapping purposes, today’s technology is more sophisticated, allowing for more uses, Chell said.
Drone use “started to evolve to using different sensors to look at ground temperatures, which led to looking at moisture readings and plant health,” he said.
Another factor leading to the growth in drone use is return on investment.
Drones can do more than individuals can, Chell said.
“You can put somebody out in a field and have them walk around in a field, but you don’t get as comprehensive and as far-reaching readings,” he said. “With a drone up in the air, 10 minutes later you can get more data than some people can ever get.”
Drones and their equipped sensors are also capable of collecting more thorough data, Chell said.
“The types of sensors being used are painting stronger pictures of where things are at in terms of crop health, moisture and other applications,” he said.
Drone use in ag could evolve even further.
Some forestry departments are already using drones to plant trees. Farmers could employ drones to plant their crops, Chell said.
“Previously you had an incredible amount of human resource and labour to replant forests, now you have situations where drones can shoot the pods into the ground,” Chell said. “I think we’re going to see drones used for the planting of commercial crops or spraying. I think in many respects drones will replace some of the functions even tractors are performing.”