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Event indicates increased interest in agricultural drones

Posted 11 November 2014

Research assistant, Jonathan Gill

More than 100 precision farming enthusiasts joined together at Harper Adams University recently, to hear about the latest developments and potential uses of drones in agriculture.

The one-day specialist seminar was hosted by the National Centre for Precision Farming (NCPF) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Interest Group, in partnership with agricultural data company, URSULA Agriculture and sponsored by Bayer CropScience.

Attracting delegates from across the country and beyond, the event included talks from a host of relevant speakers, workshops and a live-demo by surveying equipment provider, KOREC.

With the use of drones in precision farming growing, the event explored their potential whilst focussing on the practical options currently available to adopt the new technology.

Dr Richard Green, Senior Lecturer and Academic Lead for the UAS Interest Group chaired the seminar. He said: “The fact that this event was heavily oversubscribed and full to capacity indicates that interest in agricultural drones is increasing rapidly.

“Events such as this are designed to keep the farming industry abreast of the latest developments and to bridge the gap between the UAV industry and farmers.

“It is clear that UAVs and satellites are now able to collect large amounts of data. The key to farmers’ adoption of this technology is the speed at which useful tools are developing for processing that data, to turn it into financially beneficial information.”

Speaking at the event was Nuffield scholar, Andrew Williamson; Keith Geary of G2Way Ltd; Eric Ober from NIABTAG; Jonathan Gill of Harper Adams University, David Whatoff from SOYL Ltd and Mark Jarman of URSULA Agriculture.

Research Assistant, Jonathan Gill, spoke about the economics of agricultural drones, and the associated costs.

He said: “As this cutting edge technology has developed, prices have fallen to a point where it is now financially viable for an arable farmer, or farm manager, to go out and buy a drone.

“However, it is not always fully appreciated that the purchase price is only part of the cost of collecting, processing and producing images.

“My presentation provided the background information needed for landowners to be able to work out their own true cost per hectare of producing images using drones. Only after they have determined how much financial benefit they will derive from these maps, are they in a position to determine whether investing in this technology is financially justifiable.”


 

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