Is using drones in agriculture beneficial?

The cost-benefit ratio between a drone and an aircraft for the field can vary depending on several factors, such as the size of the area to be covered, the specific monitoring needs, the type of crop and local conditions.

Photos: Pixabay.

Below, we present a series of aspects to be taken into account.

Initial cost

In general, drones have a lower initial cost than a small aircraft. The agricultural drones professional level aircraft can vary in price, but are usually more economical compared to a light aircraft and the costs associated with their maintenance and operation. 

Coverage and load capacity

Small aircraft can cover large areas of land in a single flight and carry heavier equipment, such as high-resolution cameras and specialized sensors. If monitoring of very large areas is required, an airplane will probably be more efficient in terms of time and coverage.

Flexibility and access to difficult terrain

Drones are more agile and can access areas that are difficult to access, such as areas with uneven terrain or nearby crops. If the farm has complicated terrain or areas that are difficult to access, a drone may be more suitable.

Operating costs

Drones have lower operating costs compared to aircraft. Electric drones have lower energy costs, while fuel drones require less fuel, than aircraft. In addition, drones do not require a pilot on board, which reduces costs associated with personnel.

Accuracy and detail

Drones provide high-resolution images and detailed plot-level data, allowing for more accurate monitoring and early detection of crop problems. Airplanes can also provide valuable information, but their level of detail may be lower compared to drones (this depends a lot on the type of camera used).

In summary, the choice between a drone and an airplane for the field will depend on the specific needs of each farmer and the characteristics of the terrain and surface to be covered.

If rapid coverage of large tracts of land is required, an airplane may be more suitable. However, if access to complicated terrain or detailed and accurate monitoring is needed, a drone may offer a better cost-benefit ratio.

It is advisable to conduct a detailed needs analysis and consider initial, operating and maintenance costs before making a decision.

Uruguayan Chamber of Information Technology, CUTI (external link) 

Eduardo Calandria
Eduardo Calandria
Columnist specialized in drone technology. Certified drone flight operator (DINACIA). Teacher in charge of the IT Technologist Career (UTEC).

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