The Rise Of Agricultural Drones  

Vast swathes of rolling countryside have always provided landowners and farming professionals with a challenge. Monitoring, assessing and maintaining such large areas was always problematic, until the arrival of drones transformed everything.

Coverdrone has seen the number of rural commercial operators rise quickly as the potential benefits of the flexible systems has become apparent. Drones can now scan wide areas to highlight damage to perimeter fencing, check on crop progress, monitor free-roaming livestock, and perform ongoing maintenance surveys.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) offering has improved ten-fold in recent years. Previously, there were barriers that convinced many potential owners to hold back. When the high-tech flying devices hit the market, there were issues that concerned many within the farming industry.

* Costs were high and the availability of parts and spares was limited

* Training centres and professional coaches were almost non-existent

* The cameras and recording capabilities were limited

Such concerns have all but disappeared as multiple drone models have entered the market, with vastly improved lens technology, ample disc storage and all at a price that makes ownership and operation affordable.

Crop management

For arable estates, flying a drone across miles of planting makes sense. Tractors and even quad bikes cause damage and are time-consuming to operate and fuel. Where a farmer needs to assess fertilizer yield, the correct sensors fitted to a drone can check the crop density. This allows for a quick response to ensure that all areas of planting are healthy and progressing ready for harvest.

The technological advances made by drone manufacturers means that reliance on manual methods or even satellite surveillance is diminishing. Drones can fly for longer, lower, and cloud cover is not an issue to getting the required data. With vastly improved image resolution, operators can easily identify unwanted weed growth. This can then be effectively targeted.  

Livestock and maintenance

Top-quality video camera capability means stunning detail can be achieved quickly and efficiently. Video can enable livestock managers to make informed decisions about stranded or injured animals. Aerial surveillance is non-intrusive, so information can be gathered with alarming livestock. There are also many security benefits!  

Drones offer outstanding flexibility, especially where extreme conditions exist. Where flooding occurs, an aerial resource enables continuous monitoring where land-based vehicles would be largely obsolete.  

Making farming drones affordable

The obvious question posed to Coverdrone when we chat to potential drone operators at roadshows and exhibitions is whether the purchase and operational costs of running a drone outweigh buying in services on an ad-hoc basis. Much will depend upon the size of estate involved, but as technology prices fall and manufacturer competition increases the initial outlay is less of an issue.

Increasingly, several farms acting as a collective is a good option. Also, an operator that buys the necessary kit, takes out the appropriate drone insurance and receives the recommended training will also be able to offer their services to others. Such collaboration could also be mutually beneficial to adjoining farms.

With extensive experience supporting commercial drone operators across a range of agricultural settings, Coverdrone provides flexible insurance products to keep farming professionals flying safe and legal.

Please get in touch to let us answer any of your concerns.