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Wednesday 14th of October 2015
A survey of farming businesses carried out by agricultural data company, URSULA Agriculture, during June and July 2015, has revealed a significant level of interest in the use of drones in agriculture.
55% of respondents either already own and operate a drone in their business, are thinking about using one, or employ a third party to survey their crops. Close to 90% of respondents were involved in cereals production, with OSR following at 65%. Peas and beans at 53%, potatoes at 35% and sugar beet at 28% were also represented.
The survey also made it clear that farming businesses have moved beyond ‘drones for drones sake.’ There is now a real understanding that aerial data can be used to increase the bottom line and improve management decision-making.
Among the farmers, agronomists, researchers and agricultural input suppliers who completed the survey, there was general agreement over where the benefits of drone data lie. The clear winner, not surprisingly, was ‘increased margins’, with 35% of respondents citing this as the most significant benefit. ‘Reduced input costs’, came second, followed by ‘improved understanding of field performance and variation’.
Respondents were asked to rank, in order of importance, eight benefits that data from drones can or should provide. The remaining five options (in order of preference) were: targeted inputs and management, better decision-making: ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’, yield forecasting, more consistent crops and yields, and reduced environmental losses (pollution).
Steve Keyworth, CEO of URSULA Agriculture said, “The survey findings reflect clearly how interest in, and coverage of, using drones for collecting and generating valuable agricultural data, has literally taken off over the last few years. It is also heartening to see that we are already going where the market wants us to go by identifying and mapping disease in crops which offers huge benefits. For example, we are currently working with BASF and Velcourt on a project looking at fungal disease in wheat. We’re confident that this is going to generate some really exciting outcomes for improved cereal disease management.”