According to a Fortune Business Insights report, the drone industry is expected to be valued at $3.7 billion by 2027. But while the influx in the rapid adoption of innovative growing methods is due, in part, to COVID-19, the trend is here to stay. The increased pressure on global food supply and venture capital interest (and funding) into agricultural drone development is why Businesswire, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, states that the market will grow 35.9% CAGR between 2020 – 2025.
The largest area of growth? Field crops – particularly in North America.
This brings us to preparing for the 2022 growing season today. If you’re utilizing drones on your fields this year for precision agriculture, what do you need to know? Whether this is your first time experimenting with drone technology or you’re an avid user in the field, this guide will help you determine how best to achieve your goals before harvest.
Budgeting for Your Drone Operations
Regardless of your organization’s size, from independent farmers to enterprise corporations, you’ll first have to set a budget. If you’re the sole contributor to your operations, reflect on what you’d like to accomplish with drone data this growing season and identify the best hardware and software for your needs. If you’re a contractor or drone pilot for a larger company, keep in mind that there are likely multiple internal steps and approvals needed before you’ll be able to fly.
Due to current supply chain issues, it can be difficult to order drones in bulk. Because of these things, we recommend starting early and researching a host of applications before purchasing. If you’d like to fly with us, our list of suggested drones and cameras for agriculture is here.
Achieving FAA Authorization
Before beginning, be sure that all pilots on your team are Part 107 certified, an FAA requirement for all commercial drone users. You’ll need to accomplish this certification prior to flight to remain in regulation. For more information on achieving your Part 107 license, check out our overview.
Training Your Team on Established SOPs
After you’ve completed the previous steps, it’s time to establish standard operating procedures for your team. These SOPs will reduce the risk of workplace accidents and serve as an excellent training tool for new pilots. By standardizing company goals and describing the best practices to achieve them, you’re setting your organization up for success.
- How will you perform stand counts? At what time will you conduct this?
- What is the best way to support crop scouting cadence and/or product or equipment evaluations?
- Do you have a plan in place to assess weather damage?
These written, repeatable steps ensure that each team member can collect and analyze the same type and amount of data – every time.
For detailed courses on drone applications in agriculture, check out the DroneDeploy Academy. Not only can pilots, analysts, and administrators become DroneDeploy-certified, but they’ll also gain a thorough understanding of aviation safety and best practices. In our agriculture-specific sessions, viewers will learn how to leverage aerial data to improve agricultural yield throughout the growing season, from stand count reports to drainage maps to crop adjustment analysis.
We hope this checklist spurs a fantastic start to your field operations in 2022. If you’re interested in learning more about drone use in farming, download our eBook on precision agriculture, or watch our webinar on getting started with drones in agriculture.