Agriculture Drone Companies

Drones can be used to optimize a farm based on a large range of image data about the condition of crops, fields and livestock as well as applying pesticides

Multispectral-farm

October 10, 2018

The acceptance of drones being used as a key piece of farm equipment is driven by:

  • The average farm size for 2017 is 444 acres which frankly just takes time to monitor and check on – Source
  • High precision images of the crops that can help determine stress and growth levels driven by the emergence of cheap multi-spectral imaging cameras that can capture visible light (VIS) and near-infrared (NIR) light reflected by crops.
  • Farmers can use this data to integrate into smart irrigation systems as well as pesticide management

Overview

Plant Counting
https://www.precisionmapper.com/algorithms/automated-plant-counting
Crop Counting
Yield Potential
http://www.slantrange.com/#
Yield Potential
Leak Detection
http://www.slantrange.com/#
Leak Detection
Pest Detection
http://www.slantrange.com/#
Pest Detection

Benefits

Drones are an affordable investment when compared to most farm equipment. They can pay for themselves and start saving money within a single growing season. By generating accurate field data you can:

  • Get much higher resolution data (up to 16x than traditional satellite methods) of your crop conditions
  • Get a head's up on stressed areas, pest infestation, or if you have an irrigation leak anywhere.
  • Get a true count of plant growth so you can purchase insurance, plan labor schedules and predict yields

Key Components

Rotor UAV
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601935/six-ways-drones-are-revolutionizing-agriculture/
Fixed UAV
https://www.ageagle.com/fullscreen-page/comp-jmj86ab8/b4f4fbfc-c195-11e8-a9ff-063f49e9a7e4/0/%3Fi%3D0%26p%3Dpxuao%26s%3Dstyle-jmj86abk

Drone Type: Multi-Rotor vs Fixed Wing

Rotor based drones are by far the most popular type of agricultural UAVs for their ease of use, cost and flexibility. That being said fixed-wing drones excel in many areas. A good guide to help you make a decision on this can be found here.

The drones can be flown manually but these days almost everyone will use software to have the drone automatically fly and land and follow a particular route over your crop.

Agriculture Drone Sensors

Sensors:

  • Still image cameras
  • Video
  • Multispectral
    - Identify nutrient deficiencies, pest damage, fertilizer needs and water quality.
  • Hyperspectral
    - Used to analyze plant nutrients, plant diseases, water quality, and mineral and surface chemical composition.
  • Lidar
    - Using lasers this  sensor produces elevation data that can create 3D models of your farm
  • Thermal
    - Track the surface temperature of land and plants

In combination these sensors can give a 3D GPS accurate model of your field and data that the human eye can not pickup on much less track easily over time.

Some terms you might hear are: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Normalized Difference Red Edge (NDRE). NDVI is basically a measure of plant health based on how a plant reflects light at specific frequencies. Healthy plants reflect large amounts of near-infrared light (NIR) where unhealthy plants absorb more.

Ag Drone Software

Software:

Drone software will first off let you map your field and create flight paths. Once you have flown your route you then need the software to help determine what is actually going on in your field over time, what actions to take and send that data along to your team and equipment on the ground.

Flight Types & Costs

Do you want to own your drone and fly it yourself, or would you rather pay by the acre and have someone else take care of the drone regulations, ownership, and uploading the data, etc?

Drone Costs: These range from $1,500 to over $20,000 for a commercial grade spraying drone.

Regulations: The FAA views agricultural drone activity as a commercial drone operation so you have to have a Remote Pilot Certificate to fly. More details on that process can be found here.

Next Generation 

  • Autonomously docks with a charging station between flights
  • Integrate drones with pesticide applications

Companies

Operated by farmer

If you are looking to acquire a drone for your operation these companies will give you a complete solution with drone, software and sensor options.

Aerobotics

South Africa
Aerobotics offers an early pest and disease detection solution guided by drone and satellite imagery.

AgEagle

Neodesha United States
AgEagle offers data acquisition drones for precision agriculture.

American Robotics

Cambridge United States
American Robotics is a drone developer specializing in agricultural automation.

PrecisionHawk

Raleigh United States
PrecisionHawk develops drones, sensors and software for businesses to manage and monitor their assets.

Sensefly (Acquired by Parrot)

Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne Switzerland
Sensefly (Acquired by Parrot) uses drones for collection and analysis of geospatial data for commercial applications including vertical focus like an aerial crop analysis system.

Sentera

Richfield United States
Sentera provides precision ag drones, sensors and software.

Skycision

Pittsburgh United States
Skycision develops a solution for crop stress detection and analysis for agricultural operations using drones to acquire aerial imagery.

Operated by farmer: Presticide spraying speciality

Skyx

Markham Canada
Skyx develops drone systems for crop spraying.

Drone-as-a-service and Aerial Imaging Provider

Not interested in getting your license and operating your own drone but would like to access the resulting imagery and data? You are in luck as there are many providers now who will use their own equipment and charge you by the acre to access the information.

AGERpoint

New Smyrna Beach United States
AGERpoint captures precise agriculture data using LiDAR enabled drones.

Astro Digital

Mountain View United States
Astro Digital is a global satellite imaging and analysis company with images captured daily via nano satellites in both visible and infrared spectrum.

Ceres Imaging

Oakland United States
Ceres Imaging is a data-as-a-service (growers pay by the acre) aerial spectral imagery company. Its multispectral images are captured via low-flying planes and helps growers optimize their water and fertilizer application.

Deveron

Toronto Canada
Deveron UAS Corp. is a drone data company focused on agriculture industry operating in Canada and the United States.

Gamaya

Lausanne Switzerland
Gamaya develops a farming management solution using hyperspectral imaging and data analysis.

Mavrx (Acquired by Taranis)

San Francisco United States
Mavrx (Acquired by Taranis) provides spatial analytics platform using UAVs, aircraft, and satellites to help growers maximize yields and reduce costs.

TellusLabs

Boston United States
TellusLabs combines historic satellite imagery and machine learning to map and predict agriculture supply chain.

Drone Software & Technology Providers

If you operate your own drone but would like to get some additional analysis of the field data here are some solution providers for you to look at for their software and analysis tools.

Agribotix (Acquired by AgEagle)

Boulder United States
Agribotix (Acquired by AgEagle) offers drone-enabled precision ag solutions.

Cainthus

San Francisco United States
Cainthus uses machine vision technology to monitor the health and well-being of crops and livestock.

FarmShots (Acquired by Syngenta)

Raleigh United States
FarmShots (Acquired by Syngenta) detects diseases, pests, and poor plant nutrition on farms by analyzing satellite and drone imagery.

FluroSat

Eveleigh Australia
FluroSat uses satellites, drones, and some aerial imagery, to capture and analyze hyperspectral images of crops to predict disease and help growers make decisions.

Resson

San Jose United States
Resson develops a farm analytics solution for major agricultural producers. The system uses drones, in-ground sensor data and machine learning to create its insights.

Slantrange

San Diego United States
SLANTRANGE uses custom sensors, drones and analytical tools to provide farmers information on the health condition of their agricultural crops.