Air and Land Farming Drones

Discussion in 'Drone Minds Blogs' started by Jonathan, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan Drone Expert

    Aug 31, 2013
    Drone Aerial Photographer
    For some farmers and vineyard owners, the use of drones to analyze their crops is something they’ve been doing for a while.

    However, using drones for ‘precision agriculture’ is still a new and emerging technology for most, and perhaps unheard of for some.

    In the past some farmers would hire planes to conduct aerial photography runs of their land so they could see areas of poor growth more easily. Today, the rise of the drone has coincided with the rise of affordable multi-spectral photography devices that can easily be mounted on the small flying drones.

    Couple these new cameras with the ability to fly very low over crops at a fraction of the cost of hiring full sized aircraft, and you have a tech savvy farmer’s dream come true. Extremely detailed images of crops of all kinds can be captured at different wavelength, near infrared for example, that show farmers and farm managers, as well as vineyard owners, how well their crops are growing.
    One of the ways they do this is actually pretty simple. All plant-life has to photosynthesize to breathe, to survive, turning the sun’s light energy into chemical energy. The plants that are not breathing so well, not photosynthesizing efficiently, show up as a different color or tone in the survey images. The farmer can use this knowledge to specifically target patches that could use more care and attention, or investigate further why these crops might not be growing so well.

    With a small drone, vast areas of land can be covered in a few hours, where in the past it could have taken weeks of plodding the furrows and investigating by hand.

    Drones on Land

    Flying bots aren’t the only kind of autonomous machines being used by forward thinking farmers. Juan Bravo, a Spanish born entrepreneur, now living in California, is the inventor of a strawberry picking drone called Argobot.
    Traditional automated methods involve a couple of conveyor belts with human workers picking the strawberries by hand and placing them on the belt. This method typically yields about 7 or 8 tons of strawberries per hectare (100 acres) depending on sunshine and rain levels.

    Juan’s Argobot is a moving platform/packing machine with robotic arms that have visual sensors to detect the redness of ripe fruit. This agricultural drone is programmed to only pick ripe strawberries and to leave the others to carry on growing.

    Current models have 16 robotic arms, but future iterations are being planned with 60 arms, though these only work on single stem strawberry plants at the moment.

    It is thought that the Argobot can cover about 3 hectares (300 acres) a day and replace roughly 60% of human labor. This may sound like a bad thing to some, but there has been a huge labor shortage in California due to the economy and stricter border controls with Mexico.

    Juan Bravo and his team have spent ten years developing this technology and have three prototypes in operation right now in Australia, California and Spain. Juan says the Argobot will be commercially available sometime in the next two years.


    Similar technology could be used for other fruits and vegetables, using light sensors, and touch sensors currently in development in the virtual reality sector.

    Jonathan Malory

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  2. Dava

    Dava Active Member

    Sep 3, 2013
    Walrus polisher.
    I like the idea of fruit picking drones it's a horrible job especially strawberries.  8)

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