Ag Drones (Again) on the Rise

Editor’s Note: How to capitalize on drone technology is among the many topics to be discussed during the inaugural 2021 Tech Hub LIVE Conference and Expo. To be held in Des Moines, IA, July 20-21, Tech Hub LIVE brings together a community of like-minded professionals to learn, connect, and engage with leaders across data-driven agriculture sectors, providing you with an opportunity to learn from innovative industry leaders to advance your business.

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During our most recent meeting of the Conference Committee for the Tech Hub LIVE event we are producing in July in Des Moines someone suggested we do a session on drones.

Now, even a year ago I would have rolled my eyes, having endured the rise and predictable rapid fall of one-off drone use. And the endless stream of folks coming up to me at drone conferences saying, “Hey, can you help me? I got a drone and I want to get into agriculture.” Sure, buddy, get in line.

But entering the 2021 growing season, it’s a different ballgame. We’ve sloughed off a boatload of ill-fated business ventures centered around drone technology. We’ve seen dramatic improvements in technology, in particular addressing the big pain point of collecting and stitching imagery efficiently.

Most importantly, drones are being inserted into in-season regimens where they can provide the most benefit, from pest detection to damage assessment to stand count. It’s not strictly about the drone and the data, it’s about the value provided to the end user for incorporating the drone application. Very little in ag technology can stand alone.

And, of course, we’re seeing companies like Rantizo rapidly advancing spray application via drone, which is showing great promise.

Agriculture always votes with dollars based on the value of a given product or technology. When it comes to drones, the momentum is building toward sustainable, value-driven models. We’ll look forward to digging into this question further this summer.

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