UAV Technology and Precision Agriculture
Hi-tech farming may bring to mind futuristic images of robots tilling the fields or harvesting crops. The crops themselves may even be futuristic, genetically engineered for maximum nutrition or hybridized to provide immunity to pests or diseases. Hi-tech farming is more than that, though, and today the agricultural industry is making use of modern technology in a variety of ways to improve the quality of the soil, assist with the management of crop growth and crop rotation, and as a means to monitor the overall health and sustainability of croplands.
UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, have become an incredibly popular technology choice for farmers, with many large and small farmers alike using drones to collect field data to improve their precision crop management. In fact, the practice of precision agriculture has grown by leaps and bound as commercial UAV use has expanded.
What is Precision Agriculture?
Precision agriculture is a revolution in farming. Using hi-tech sensors, imaging, and farming techniques, precision agriculture allows farmers to customize each square foot of their fields and get the greatest value possible out of every seed planted. Through the use of this advanced technology, farmers are able to extract the most accurate data possible from the soil of and atmosphere surrounding their fields, measure the growth rate of crops, understand their condition due to weather and pests, and learn more about the effects of the environment on the crops.
The key to precision agriculture is measuring energy. Using imaging equipment, such as cameras and spectral technologies, that are mounted to UAVs, farmers can measure and record the way that energy is being reflected off of their croplands, as well as the amount of energy that the croplands themselves are emitting. With this data, agricultural experts and scientists are able to evaluate the condition of a farm’s fields and crops, assessing everything from the moisture level in the soil to the ground surface temperature, even the activity levels of pests over a period of time. This information gives farmers the ability to focus their planting, minimize their impact on the environment, and increase the yield of their crops.
UAVs and Imaging Technology
A major component in the practice of precision agriculture is the use of advanced imaging technology, including multispectral and hyperspectral technologies. All images are comprised of different wavelengths of light from along the electromagnetic spectrum. Color and shade are all indicated by the particular wavelength that is received by an imaging machine, whether it is a simple camera or a high-tech imaging device.
Multispectral imaging captures image data at specific frequencies. These electromagnetic spectrum wavelengths may be filtered across the spectrum, or they may be singled out by sensitive instruments such as those used to measure infrared light. Hyperspectral imaging obtains the full spectrum, all colors, for each image it takes. The importance of this type of imaging is in the details because hyperspectral imaging measures the entire spectrum for each pixel in a picture. An image could literally have thousands of pixels, depending upon the capability of the camera being used, so hyperspectral imaging allows for a very detailed observation of a farm field and its crops. Hyperspectral imaging may also be used to detect and record particular growth processes, and even to find and identify specific objects in an area.
UAV Imaging and Security Concerns
Commercial UAV use has increased rapidly in recent years as the FAA allows more businesses to take advantage of the machines. With the rise in use, however, comes any increase in concerns over security issues and privacy rights. For operators piloting drones with imaging equipment on board, the concern is even greater. Such high-tech equipment is capable of recording images from a long distance and with astounding accuracy, and many are legitimately concerned that the drones could fly into unauthorized airspace or violate personal privacy.
As the FAA and drone manufacturers continue to work towards a solution to the security concerns with commercial drone use, insurance companies are crafting drone insurance policies that help to protect companies using commercial UAVs. Drone insurance coverage, together with general business liability coverage, offers protection when accidents or incidents involving the drone, including any infringement of privacy rights, occur.
Today, modern agriculture is facing a lot of pressure. Battling swelling population numbers and a changing climate, farmers are always in search of new ways to boost their crop yields, improve the quality of their food, and make their environmental impact a more positive one. Precision agricultural techniques, including advanced imaging, provide scientists with the data they need to advise farmers on how to better manage their farming, saving time, money, and improving the quality of their yields year after year.
Poms & Associates offers a broad range of business insurance and brokerage services and provides the most current information on commercial general liability insurance policies, as well as additional coverage options such as drone insurance. For more details about the basics of business insurance policies, and to find out how Poms & Associates can help you choose the right drone coverage for your company, please visit our website or contact us.
Gabriella Messina is an author who has written online content for a variety of business and insurance related topics, including business insurance basics, workers’ compensation, liability insurance, and malpractice.