A lot of people think a drone is a high-tech robot toy you use to take cool photos and videos from the sky. Drones are also considered a pricy camera used by content creators to capture and share outdoor adventures.
Itâ€™s easy to dismiss drones as just a toy or just a camera. But this flying robot has quite a few practical applications that can make the daily life of a hobby farmer easier.
Drones: A Valuable Tool for Every Hobby Farmer
At the most basic level, a drone is an unmanned flying robot you can control via a remote or using an app on your phone. Drone technology has evolved from a basic drone that could only fly back and forth in front of you to a high-powered quadcopter with four sets of propellers, an onboard camera and software with GPS.
You can opt for models with a 4K camera, long-lasting battery and obstacle avoidance built-in too.
How can a device like this assist a hobby farmer on a day-to-day basis? A drone is a valuable addition for every hobby farm, no matter what size. If there is something youâ€™d like to explore, you can take to the skies and be on your way faster than the time it takes to put on your boots.
Fly Your Fence Line
On a farm, fences are designed to keep your possessions and animals in. They keep people or other animals out, too.
If you have a large property, you know how long it can take to walk from one end of your â€˜yardâ€™ to the other to check the security of your fences.
Use a drone to check for downed fence panels or other breaches. It’s a lot easier and faster than walking. And the latest drones can travel up to 18 miles away without losing a connection to the remote control.
You can fly low and check every fence. Navigate around trees yourself or using your droneâ€™s obstacle avoidance. And make a note of what needs to be repaired or where there is an issue.
Read more: Drone curious? Here are 6 tips for using one on a small farm.
Visit with Your Livestock When They Wander Away
Finding your cows, sheep or horses on a large property can be a bit of a guessing game. With a drone, you can swoop down and take a look inside your barn at any animals inside. Or you can head out to the furthest corners of your property to find a lost lamb.
Some types of drones are quiet enough so they wonâ€™t startle animals. You can do a headcount or even get up close and check for health issues.
Cruise Your Crops, Row by Row
One of the best benefits of owning a drone on a hobby farm? Checking in on your crops.
You can fly overhead and assess any damage done by hail or rain. Or you can fly low over a row and capture photos and videos of a potential issue like blight or insect damage.
If you see a potential issue youâ€™re unsure about, your photos will be a valuable tool in analyzing and answering the problem.
Agricultural Drones Take over Crop Spraying
If youâ€™d like to go one step further and take on more significant farm tasks, you can upgrade to an agricultural drone. Agricultural drones are more powerful than hobby drones. And they have field software onboard you can use to monitor everything from growth to weeds to lack of water.
An agricultural drone carries a camera that takes near-infrared images to access NDVI data (normalized difference vegetation index). You can use the data to plan out your crops or assess crop health.
Some agricultural drones have crop sprayers on board, too. This eliminates the need for you to spend hours in your tractor. Some models can spray up to 6000 square feet in 10 minutes.
Read more: See & Spray targets weeds, leaves healthy plants alone.
How to Choose the Best Drone for Your Hobby Farm
If your goal is to spend less time walking your fields and more time performing other tasks, a basic hobby drone will be a good choice for you. To ensure you have the latest technology, youâ€™ll want to choose a drone with a minimum of a 4K camera, 30 minutes or longer battery life and obstacle avoidance software.
The average cost of the latest hobby drones is approximately $800.
When youâ€™d like a drone with the capacity to take on tasks like crop spraying or you want to map out your property using near-infrared images, youâ€™ll want to look into agricultural drones. Just keep in mind this type of drone is a sizable investment. The average price is from $4000 up to $30,000.
Is Your Next Farm Tool a Drone?
Drones have so many practical purposes. But for me, one of the best parts of having a drone is being able to document my farm as it grows year after year.
The photos and videos of our farm as it changes and grows make this a technology well worth its weight in gold.