AMHERST, NEW YORK, September 9, 2015 – Agricultural drones are revolutionizing modern farming practices by providing crucial data that was previously unattainable or had taken hours to collect by foot. Stampede, North America’s largest distributor of drone-based systems, is taking the agricultural drone revolution even farther with the next wave of drone technology- Drone Video Systems, a new category comprised of drone hardware, video conferencing software, and expert consultative services- that’s bound to reform, once again, how farmers monitor crops and share data.
“Thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Section 333 exemption that allows commercial businesses to fly drones on a case-by-case basis, UAVs already play a significant role in collecting information that helps produce a healthier crop yield,” said Stampede COO & President Kevin Kelly. “Drone Video Systems (DVS) amplify that experience. With the category’s introduction, farmers, regardless of their physical location, can tap into live video feed – captured by the unique and previously unattainable perspective of a drone – and collaboratively assess a situation to make smarter decisions, faster and more cost-effectively than ever before. Anyone they choose can have access to the same data, regardless of location.”
The revolution that’s sweeping the modern farming industry- commonly referred to as “precision agriculture”- is a significant one. According to the Boston Globe, the United Nations, assuming that the global population will reach 9.1 billion people in 2050, projects that food production will need to rise by about 70 percent to feed everyone. Thus, improving crop yield is key to feeding the world. That’s where drones come in.
Not only do agricultural drones save farmers a significant amount of time monitoring acres by foot, but they also provide enhanced data that is otherwise undetectable by eye. Through precision agriculture, farmers can detect differences in yield while harvesting, measure the chemical structure of soil, forecast future seasonal weather, and more.
According to the Daily Press, agricultural drones utilize a 360-degree aerial camera to capture images, which are then sorted with software to develop a complete picture of a farmer’s crops. Aerial images captured from the drone are then layered with satellite data- in addition to data from ground-based sources such as soil moisture sensors and weather stations- to compile digitized multispectral imagery of farm fields. “Drones, and now Drone Video Systems, change the game completely,” Kelly added. “Gone are the days when a farmer had to traverse acres by foot to check on his crops and inform others, much later, on what he saw.”
Measurements in the form of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) images, according to the Boston Globe, assess crop productivity based on visible and infrared radiation. An agricultural drone’s software can take these images, then stitch them together to create a complete picture of the crop’s status.
“Agricultural Drone Video Systems (DVS) are specifically customizable to the farmer’s needs, with a 360-degree camera and the ability to capture wide range of data,” Kelly added. “Farmers can share this data simultaneously with anyone in the world, which is, up until now, unprecedented. The implications for this kind of data-sharing are enormous.”
“High tech” farms are bound to feed more people and reap a greater annual gross income for farmers. According toNational Geographic, farmers that used guiding systems and variable rate technologies reaped significant monetary benefits annually; small farms saw an average gross annual benefit of $11,000, typical size farms saw an average gross annual benefit of $26,000, and large farms saw an average gross annual benefit of $39,000.
“High-tech farming is the future,” Kelly emphasized, “and Drone Video Systems (DVS) provide a revolutionary combination of customizable hardware, video conferencing software, and expert consult services for farmers who want to collect highly specialized data and share it with others simultaneously,” Kelly added. “We’re on the precipice of our next great communication revolution – and, like its predecessors, it’s going to change everything again.”