Revenge of the Drones in Agriculture

Revenge of the Drones in Agriculture

The field of agriculture is again showing interest in drone technology, which, like this quad copter at AUVSI, is hoping to elevate its game.

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The field of agriculture is again showing interest in drone technology, which, like this quad copter, is hoping to elevate its game.

Looking back at the rapid rise and precipitous crash of drone technology in agriculture, it feels like it unfolded in about a week and a half. The elapsed time it took to move from people running up to me at conferences shouting, “I bought a drone, and I want to get into ag,” to “Yeah, it’s in the closet, not sure it still works,” was stunning and served as a stark reminder of the challenges of entering this market.

That said, drone technology is on the rise again, as those with persistence and a careful ear to the actual needs of the market have not only endured but are also showing signs of creating sustainable business models.

Agriculture is still small potatoes for the bulk of the drone industry, as my recent visit to the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) revealed. But inroads by companies, such as PrecisionHawk, Rantizo, TerrAvion, and AeroVironment, are creating and delivering value, and that is great to see.

That’s not to say that it’s all work and no play for drones, as the beauty pictured above can attest. Are you ready to take a ride on a quad copter, folks? I asked my colleague and drone pilot Matthew Grassi what he thought, and his response was, “No WAY, Dude. Never.”

Me? Maybe.

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Correction: TerrAvion does not use drones to collect its aerial imagery, only manned aircraft.

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