Facing paramount challenges of producing enough food to feed an ever-growing population on decreasing arable land, farmers are in need of smart farming technologies. Smart farming is simply the use of advanced technology in farming systems aiding in the management of crops and livestock to increase output without compromising quality. In the search for applicable technology that is cost effective and produces quality results, drones have risen as a leading contender. Farm drone applications are constantly emerging and expanding the range of possibilities with the help of these 10 great companies that are shaking up the agriculture industry with these unmanned aerial vehicles.
With a mission to reduce planting costs, Drone Seed is working with foresters to reduce the cost and make reforestation easier to accomplish.
They are the first and currently the only company in the US approved by the FAA to use drone swarms to deliver agricultural payload products such as herbicides, fertilizer, and water.
Drone Seed is currently working in the Northwest and Southeast United States, in collaboration with state governments to control competitive vegetation in forests. Managing competitors is a key step in reforestation; their next priority is finalizing the techniques to do aerial planting.
In early December, this industrial drone developer launched their flagship product, called Scout. This fully autonomous drone system is self-charging, self-managing and has the capability to autonomously carry out daily scouting missions.
Turn-key technology is delivered in a package consisting of a drone fitted with visual and multispectral cameras, plus a weatherproof drone station that handles housing, charging, data processing, and data transfer.
No manual intervention from the farmer is needed for the analysis and data to be sent seamlessly to the farmer. Boston based American Robotics has raised $1.1M in seed funding to support further development of its technology.
Founded in 2015, Skycision redefines traditional farm management with an innovative SaaS solution ready to shake up agriculture.
Their software calibrates visual data to take into account factors such as the intensity of light on a given day, contours of the land, etc. to provide an accurate, indispensable image to detect crop stress early in the growing season. Farmers pick the drone they want to use – based on recommendations given to them by Skycision – and tell it which field they want to scout.
With a tap of a button on a smartphone or tablet, the flight plan is defined by the app and the drone gets to work , while the farmer carries on with whatever he/she was doing, paying little to no attention to the drone. Even better news for growers is that at Skycision the farmer owns the data for his fields unlike the platforms of many other vendors.
Aerial imagery transforms the agriculture industry, allowing farmers and agronomists the ability to scout fields from the skies. Drones are moving quickly into the ag sector as lightweight, efficient alternatives for collecting field data.
In order to collect adequate data, a drone needs to be in the sky longer than a few minutes at a time especially when covering large field expanses and this is problematic as even high-end models typically have a flight time of no more than 30 minutes.
Top Flight Technologies is changing the game with hybrid energy power systems that extend flight times and allow heavier payloads for commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s). With these high energy power systems, hundreds to thousands of acres can be covered in a single flight, carrying high-end cameras with image resolution far superior to satellites or manned platforms.
Drone, mapping, software, and service: HoneyComb has put together one of the most superior, comprehensive packages on the market for agriculture, mapping, and surveying.
Their fixed-wing drone features a full-composite exoskeleton for rugged durability and is fitted with 2 cameras – both RGB and NIR – for twice the information in a single flight.
The AgDrone System can cover 600-800 acres per hour when flown at 400 feet relying on an advanced autopilot system.
Unlock large scale UAV missions with HiveUAV, innovative technology that enables drones to operate remotely and extend mission areas by utilizing rugged, automated docking stations.
Putting their technology in the hands of farmers allows users to gather localized information to manage cropping operations without needing to be a drone expert.
Docking station technology allows these “hives” to network together, communicating through the system interface to extend the duration and area of missions by allowing drones to scout and “hop” from hive to hive, stopping to charge and dump data.
A software company specializing in data processing and machine learning, Raptor Maps provides scouting software that organizes and analyzes farm imagery from single images reducing drone flights to fewer than 5 minutes and eliminating post-processing time.
Their software converts drone data into expert deliverables for farmers. Founded by MIT engineers, this Massachusetts based company has investment from Y Combinator and the Commerical Drone Fund.
Focusing solely on agriculture, Agribotix provides easy to use, fully supported drone enabled technologies that are purposely built for precision agriculture applications.
The founders were originally hired to develop a large quadcopter to assist in wildlife observation and capture. This beginning biased the team towards advancing the platform for agriculture.
After some experimentation, the team discovered a flying wing platform was much more efficient for scouting row crops such as corn and wheat. While it doesn’t look like the typical multirotor drone, the flying wing design is easy to launch, rapid to assemble, extremely robust and handles well in the wind.
Providing sensor and analytic systems for use on drone aircraft to measure crop plant and weed densities, stress from pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, and dehydration, SLANTRANGE puts accurate and complete intelligence in the hands of farmers, agronomists, and crop scouts.
Their technology drastically cuts down on flights costs as it only requires a 20% overlap, covering four times more area per flights. When every dollar counts, their technology certainly helps the bottom line.
Agri-spraying technology just took to the sky in a swarm of drones! Skyx is a software technology company developing the “brain” for a modular swarm of autonomous spraying robots.
Capable of applying varying rates, bypassing static or dynamic obstacles during the flight mission, and the ability to cover the entire farmland precisely this company puts together a complete spraying package handing over control to the farmer.