Economies around the world still rely heavily on the strong functioning of their agricultural sector. Most countries are constantly looking for ways to push yield potential, but now in more sustainable ways. As technology continues to advance, more developed countries are setting the precedence in smart mechanizations of farming.

One of these mechanizations comes in the form of drone technology. Drone technology has brought in new levels of efficiency and manageability to the agricultural sector, with applications ranging from inspection to spraying to mapping. Let us take a look at the top 5 drones that are earning their keeping on the farm.

1. DJI Agras MG-1
DJI Agras MG-1

Built with a propulsion system that allows the octocopter to carry up to 10 kg of payloads, DJI’s Agras MG-1 is one of most powerful ag drones out there. The power is not without speed, as this drone sprays about 50 times faster than manual spraying operations, and that too with amazing accuracy. Furthermore, its intelligent spraying system automatically adjusts its spray according to the flying speed so that an even spray is always applied.

This drone is for farmers seeking technology that is not only intuitive and can apply pesticides and fertilizers with automated perfection, but also designed to handle rough treatment. WeTalkUAV sums this drone up well, “the device is made for use in precision agriculture – spraying fertilizers, pesticides…It’s also tough: the machine is waterproof, dustproof, and can simply be hosed down after use.”

2. Sense Fly eBee Ag
SenseFly eBee

Curated especially for collecting actionable data, the eBee Ag requires close to zero piloting skills and is extremely versatile. It uses an automated process that requires the farmer or researcher to define the area that needs to be scouted, after which it proceeds to fly, following the defined map, and captures high resolution aerial images. These shots are then transformed into an info-packed index of the crops.

What is even more helpful is that the eBee Ag features a diverse range of camera options, including NIR, RGB, thermal and multispectral performance, that can be used depending on the agricultural application. The analysis and assessment of soils, minerals, crop health, machinery input and more is usually a complex, expensive and inaccessible procedure that hinders the progress of farming. eBee Ag truly changes the game – with its full drone to tractor workflow provision. Now agriculture service providers have a reliable helper for plant stress assessment, biomass indication, leaf area indexing, nitrogen recommendation, biomass indication, tree classification and much more.

3. Precision Hawk Lancaster 5
Precision Hawk Lancaster 5

For those looking for a sturdy and consistent data collector, the Lancaster 5 is built to last. Similar to the eBee Ag, it too is autonomous and optimizes a flight plan to collect data in the most efficient way. However, it is designed specifically to survive hard landings and unfavourable environmental conditions.

The Lancaster 5 is only one part of Precision Hawk’s package. To ensure the effective operation of the drone, Precision Hawk offers in person training packages to pilots and observers. On top of that, its DataMapper software provides accurate maps of flight location and creates geo-referenced mosaics. This joint hardware and software solution is unique and a definite help to farmers. Drone Enthusiasts describes, “[the drone’s] propriety AI reacts to changing weather conditions and real-time diagnostics, while it can also be fitted with a range of imaging functions depending on what is required. The Lancaster is an adaptable precision solution.”

4. AGCO Solo Edition
AGCO Solo Edition

Crop monitoring and optimization are two integral tasks made easy by the SOLO AGCO Edition UAV. With 2 customized cameras for aerial mapping, mission planning and cloud based high-resolution mapping software, this drone is a strong contender in the market.

A special add on that pushes this drone over the edge is the Agribotix imagining and analysis software for precision agriculture. Agribotix delivers agricultural intelligence to increase yields and profits using AGCO Edition UAV’s data collection. This package produces high resolution orthomosaics, NDVI maps and field health and management zone maps. Now farmers can just “look at [these maps] and see if the problem is bugs or weeds or a piece of equipment that didn’t function properly. [They] can either fix it or save money by not putting chemicals down on that part.”

5. Yamaha RMAX
 Yamaha RMAX

Yamaha is known for having produced the first drone for crop dusting with a 20 kg payload, as far back as 1987. It continues to produce advanced and sturdy ag copters, now with higher capabilities. Boasting of high performance and high tech safety features, Yamaha RMAX combines spraying, seeding, remote sensing, frost mitigation and precision agriculture functions. It is especially great for accessing areas with tough ground conditions, and has a load capacity of up to 28 kg.

The aircraft is compact and lightweight, and its 246cc horizontally opposed 2 stroke is liquid cooled to cope with the hottest weather. Another plus for farmers is the possibility to control up to 6 helicopters at once during spraying operations, with no crosstalk interference. New Atlas explains, “the completely autonomous RMAX enables the pilot to watch what’s happening from all 4 cameras at once while the RMAX goes about the flight plan…. It enables high-value crops in difficult-to-access paddy fields, often on very hilly land, to be sprayed with pesticides and specialized nutrients.”

The application of drone, from precision technology to crop monitoring, encompasses the farming revolution of recent years. Farmers are now able to boost yields, cut costs and drive their business forward, helping entire economies advance in smart and sustainable ways. According to a recent research report by MarketsAndMarkets, the market is expected to grow from USD 864.4 Million in 2016 to USD 4,209.2 Million in 2022. The agriculture drone market in APAC is expected to grow at a fast pace rate with China, India, and Japan spearheading initiatives and investing heavily in R&D. Along with this, market players such as DJI and Yamaha are trying to suffice the growing demand for agriculture drones across the APAC region.