This is an interesting article about how a drone paid for itself “10 to 20 times over” on an Indiana farm. It was just published by AGWeb the other day. The article lists the various ways in which farmers can benefit from using drones, various models and brands. And, perhaps most importantly, how to get started using a drone on your farm, explaining the registration process and how to obtain a Part 107 license. See below for more highlights.

DJI Mavic Pro

Drone paid for itself “10 to 20 times over”

Rhonda Brooks writes for AG Web:

Ultimately, [farmer Mason] Lantrip says his insurance paid nearly twice the amount he initially expected for the corn wind damage, and that wasn’t the first time the drone, a quadcopter, improved his bottom line.

“You know, it’s paid for itself 10 to 20 times over, and it’s done that three or four different years,” Lantrip says.

There’s more than one way to capture value from a drone.

“There are so many valuable things you can do with one beyond crop scouting,” he [Bill Horan, a Purdue University Extension educator] says.

Today’s crop growers use drones to identify fields or parts of fields that are washed out and need replanting, check irrigation systems for plugged nozzles, take pictures of tile installations to show where the lines are, and fly over grain bins and barns to identify damage when storms occur. Likewise, livestock producers find drones useful to locate sick animals or mama cows that are calving, monitor out-buildings and facilities, and even find sections of fence that need repair.

There are two basic drone types to consider: multirotor and fixed-wing. Multirotor drones tend to have a shorter battery life but are on the lower end of the cost spectrum. Horan’s DJI Phantom, a multirotor drone, retails in a bundled package (includes a transmitter, battery and case) for about $1,500 on Amazon. He says a “starter drone” costs about half that amount.

“If you had a one-time insect infestation that the drone helped you identify and treat, that would probably more than cover your $750 investment,” he says.

“I get a lot of information from the NDVI pictures that helps me find and treat diseases and pests, and I can overlay those images with my yields map to improve my ROI,” he [Mason Lantrip] says. “This was a real incentive to go to the effort to buy a drone and get my license. It’s all about the bottom line, and the drone helps me improve my productivity.”

You can read the entire article here.

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