Drones on the horizon: New frontier in agricultural innovation
This issue of ICT Update (PDF), published by CTA, elaborates on the potential of drone technology for agriculture. Drone technology could help farmers around the world monitor their crops, fend off pests, improve land tenure, and more. But to realize its full potential, regulatory regimes are necessary, while keeping citizens’ safety and privacy rights secure. Crop insurers and insurance policy holders also benefit from readily-available and easily repeatable drone imagery: in India, insurers plan to use UAVs to conduct assessment of crop losses after natural disasters, allowing them to more accurately and quickly calculate pay-outs, while large US crop insurers like ADM have begun running their own drone tests. Drones also have proven useful to agricultural planners, greatly reducing the time and cost required to conduct an accurate survey. UAVs can be used to conduct volume estimates, to create irrigation and drainage models, and to collect the data needed to generate high-definition, geographically accurate elevation models and maps. In an example described in this issue, a team tasked with planning a Nigerian rice farm used drone imagery to make decisions on the layout of both rice paddies and irrigation and drainage systems – and, thanks to the drone imagery, were able to quickly determine that their original design was poorly suited to the terrain that was actually available to them. The issue further elaborates on the needed regulations and capacity building to ensure the adoption of the drone-technology will be functional in remote areas and in line with privacy law.