Smart drones lower precision agriculture costs for Aussie farmers as latest release models increase product capacity
Aerial drone technology is set to change the way we farm and is already returning real time benefits to growers in the $45 billion a year crop production industry by delivering a cost-effective way to add precise water and nutrients to crops on an as-needed basis.
When livestock producers and crop production income is combined, in total these two farming groups produced income of $81 billion in season 2021-22. They can certainly afford a drone or two and will buy them once the advantages of owning a drone are fully calculated.
To take it a step further, there is every possibility all farm holdings will require a specialist agricultural drone within the next five years, even if its only purpose is to scout the farm for any downed stock or attend to water issues.
But in reality, most farmers will expect a lot more from their new drones and will not be disappointed.
There has been an increase in drone manufacturing over the past 4 to 5 years, and we have reached a point where operator capabilities in reading analytical software and machine learning have now led to wider use and the release of leading-edge drone models has followed.
The retail value of the drone market is expected to reach $22 billion by 2040 and will continue to grow.
Drones in cropping
We have moved to a stage where an advanced farm drone can sense everything it needs to know about crop growth through a built-in vegetation index program.
This allows the drone to determine the crop health, moisture and nutrient content, making it easier and more efficient for growers to manage crop producing land and even determine if a new seed variety is required next season.
Drones enable farmers to move from traditional crop growing practices to precision farming, and in doing so increases the ability to accurately nurture crops across different sectors, at an overall reduced cost.
Drones are seen as the next stepping-stone to local growers being able to produce high quality wheat in our hot and dry climate.
When you’re growing crops in the driest continent in the world, being able to identify stress-related parts of the crop is critical – and this is where drone technology will thrive.
Drones are able to scan agricultural land and indicate where there is a need for additional irrigation, or application of fertiliser or herbicides to selected crop segments.
Imaging technology gathered by the drone lets growers see beyond the naked eye, allowing them to be proactive rather than reactive about their crops.
Just as satellites map the Earth’s resources, drones can produce colour-coded images that show the health of crops from performance to disease detection.
Growers soon become familiar with this technology as it identifies healthy plants exhibiting a high vegetation index – often shown as green regions on drone mapping – and mature, stressed or dead plants and soil manifesting a low vegetation index – often displayed as yellow areas on drone mapping.
Drones usually deliver this information using RGB (red, green, blue) cameras.
This data is then processed offline and modelled into information the grower uses to make decisions about the progress of their crop.
DJI Agras T30 and T10
When you start your search for an ideal farm drone, a name that keeps coming up is DJI.
DJI is the recognised global leader in drone and camera technology and has now released two leading-edge farm models called the Agras T30 and Agras T10.
The Agras T30 and T10 have the advantage of having been developed in conjunction with farmer input and the result is these aerial precision models come with technology that ensures an improvement in productivity.
The Agras T30 has become DJI’s and the industries flagship model for digital agriculture application. It carries a 30-litre spray tank and has a spreading system payload capacity of up to 40kg.
For precision spraying, there are 16 nozzles positioned to allow accurate placement, with a spray pattern out to 9 metres.
The T30 takes drone aerial spraying efficiency to new heights and can cover 16ha (40-acres) of pin-pointed precision spraying in under an hour.
In Comparison the DJI Agras T10 is designed as a highly compact-yet-powerful aerial solution and is fitted with an 8-litre product tank that can spray in widths out to 5 metres.
This combination allows the T10 to cover up to 6ha/hour (15-acres/hour).
DJI engineers settled on a carbon fibre composite of materials for the fuselage to reduce weight, with a one-key locking arm design that helps reduce volume by 80% after folding.
The Agras T30 and T10 were also built with an unwavering focus on flight safety. They utilise a spherical radar system that scans surrounding areas in all environments and weather conditions regardless of dust and light conditions.
In addition, they are fitted with obstacle avoidance systems and adaptive flight functions that help ensure safety during flights.
Dual FPV cameras provide clear front and rear views and the added searchlight doubles night vision capabilities.
An updated remote controller for the T30 and T10 supports stable image transmission from up to 5km away.
A 140mm (5.5-inch) bright screen delivers a clear view, even in harsh lighting conditions. For increased productivity, one remote controller can operate multiple drones at once.
A newly designed intelligent battery is covered by a 1-year warranty for 1,000 charges and 670ha (1,650-acres) of flight; this ultra-long service life can significantly reduce operating costs.
The charging station and smart charging hub can charge a battery in 10 minutes, allowing for continuous operation with just two batteries and one charger.
With three layers of protection over critical components, the IP67 rating (battery excluded), gives the protection needed for regular use of liquid fertiliser and exposure to dust and corrosion.
Spreading System 3.0
The T30’s updated spreading system 3.0 has a capacity of 40kg with a flow rate up to 50kg per minute. It has a spreading width of up to 7 metres and an hourly spreading capacity of one tonne for urea.
In comparison, the Agras T10 can switch to a spreading system in just three minutes, with a capacity of 8kg and spreading width of up to 7 metres, supporting an hourly coverage rating of 5.7ha (14 -acres)
The spreading system also supports real-time weight monitoring and has an anti-rotation sensor this gives the operator accurate refill alerts.
When used with DJI digital agriculture solutions, it can implement variable spreading that reduces fertiliser use while still maintaining or increasing yields.
With the release of the DJI Agras T30 and T10 it represents the latest development in a series of agriculture drones that have proven crucial for on-farm solutions. The DJI T30 and T10 drones are now available in over 100 countries worldwide including Australia, North America and Europe.
To date, over 50,000 Agras drones have been sold into worldwide farming regions.
For more information on where the T30 and T10 is available in your own region, contact local distributor CR Kennedy on tel: 03 9823 1533, or see the full range on this link: