• Agriculture Technology
  • Oct 22, 2018

Making Drones an Everyday Tool

Close-up of drone in flight
Anyone who is capturing imagery with a drone knows that it’s a time- and labor-intensive job. And once you’ve collected a large library of high-resolution images, you need to know how to organize and analyze the data to obtain beneficial insights. These are just two of the reasons WinField United is committed to working with tech companies, retailers and farmers to find smarter ways to use drones for crop management.
No pilots needed for the “pilot”
The Ag Technology team at WinField United worked on a number of tech concept projects in 2018, including the small-plot drone research pilot conducted with Mid-Kansas Cooperative and American Robotics, a drone developer specializing in agricultural automation. The demonstration showed how autonomous drone technology can be practically integrated into routine farming operations and showed the possibilities as we continue to find ways to leverage this technology in agriculture. 
We’re using drones in our Answer Plot® program to analyze how crops respond to their environment throughout the growing season. Drones enable our research teams to collect real-time imagery. We can discover, for example, how well a certain hybrid performed or whether a treatment added value by looking at multiple imagery touchpoints over time. Collectively, that information helps fuel management insights based on what we know about the location and growing environment. 
The goal with fully autonomous drones is to give farmers more time to collect data on the ground and combine that with what we’re gathering from aerial imagery to make smarter management decisions. For example, let’s say you have an isolated problem spot in your field. With an automated drone, you’d be able to set up a scouting schedule to check it every day and readily target your management to that small section of the field. There’d be no need to waste time scouting the entire field every day or spraying the whole field if only one small area was affected.
From experimental to experiential
Admittedly, drone technology for the farm is in its early stages. In the future, drone imagery will help farmers see what’s going on in their fields and discover ways to help minimize inputs and maximize yields. Imagine how the experimental work being done now might transform routine farming operations such as scouting and targeting treatment.
Keeping up with technology is always a challenge, whether you’re learning features on your new smartphone or figuring out how to effectively use a drone on your farm. Our team at WinField United is working with partners across the industry to help find new ways to make this emerging technology a reality for farmers. Contact your WinField United representative for more on how you can take advantage of the latest ag technology advancements.  
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