It’s not a bird, a plane or superman flying over farm fields, but it might be a drone looking for weeds or spraying fungicide. Ben D. Johnson, Territory Sales Manager at Rantizo says that drones have come a long way in a short time. While just a few years ago they were more toy than tool, they are now bigger, smarter and more capable.
It wasn’t long ago that having a drone on farm meant something you picked up at a hobby shop and strapped a GoPro camera to. Drones in agriculture were interesting but limited in their day to day helpfulness. But the drones of today and tomorrow aren’t found in a hobby shop and certainly have found where they can be a great management tool, especially when you’re looking at precision agriculture in areas like Wisconsin where small and irregularly shaped fields are common.
Drones have gotten larger, and are now not only capable of having a spray rig mounted on them, they can also help plant cover crops. And imaging hasn’t gone away, with computer learning drones are now able to be used to seek out pests in a field or spot treat areas of the field. Johnson says drones can really help increase the ROI of a farmer’s acres and for less than the cost of a new pickup truck.
While Johnson says that he sees the next few years bringing in larger drones that are heavier and more capable, he doesn’t think they’ll be taking the place of planes or helicopters. He adds that drones are another tool in the toolbox but not a replacement for other more traditional pest and planting options.