Drones Take Two Paths To Demonstrate ROI In Agriculture

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You can categorize drone use in agricultural into two buckets—for imagery and for application.
“Drones aren’t toys—they are tools,” says Michael Ott, CEO of Rantizo. 

Rantizo just received approval for swarming—up to three drones in a single field for application. Swaming Rantizo drones can apply up to 40 acres an hour. 

 “Previously, our typical jobs were 5 to 30 acre fields, but with swarming, we’ll see much larger fields—80 to 200 acre jobs,” Ott says. 

Crop consultant Erich Eller, who runs ForeFront Ag Solutions in Indiana, uses drones on every acre he consults on. 

Eller shares these are three big takeaways he’s found in using drones this year:

  1. The sins of the planter haunt us all season.  Field conditions and soil temps were not in a “good” window and planters were rolling. This led to uneven stands and needed replants. Eller and his team at ForeFront Ag Solutions were able to use drones to fly over a field and quickly do an accurate stand count. The drones allowed them to answer the pivotal question:  Do we tear it up and start over or even spot in? Eller says the drones supplied the high quality data to make a well informed decision on.
  2. The technology helps focus scouting efforts. During a dry spell, corn was showing potassium deficiency in areas, and the drones were able to pick up the difference. Eller’s team overlaid the imagery with recent soil test results and it was not adding up as the soil tests didn’t indicate any issues. So they headed to the field with iPads and shovels, and they found compaction issues with dry soil and stunted roots. A foliar application of potassium micronutrients and biostimulants within the next 48 hours. Eller says, “I’m not sure we would have found this issue with “normal walk and wonder” scouting vs directed scouting.”
  3. Scale and timeliness matter. “It still impresses us that in a single flight, we can see 100% of the field,” Eller says. “So we can get reports that show weed issues, insect chewing, diseases, and nutrient deficiency.” He says that has increased their effectiveness and timeliness in addressing agronomic issues with the best recommendations.

These two drone gurus share how every farmer can find ROI with drones and what technologies they are watching closely during a panel discussion “The Future of Drone Use in Agriculture” hosted in the virtual Farm Journal Field Days. After completing your free registration:

  • click the Pavilion link in the top navigation and
  • go to Pavilions O - Z to find "Technology, Ag Retail & Machinery Pavilion" 
  • And find the session is available for playback

Farm Journal Field Days is a new farm show designed to provide farm and ranch leaders across America with three days of virtual discussion, tours, solutions, entertainment and information from key industry leaders that is accessible from anywhere. It’s taking place this week – Aug. 25-27.

Register now to join the fun!