Bennett Kireker is a New York native who now lives in Pismo Beach, California. As a kid, he used to spend summers on his grandparents’ apple orchard just outside New York City. Because of this early exposure to the soil, he decided to engage in farming and agricultural technology. Bennett J Kireker travels twice a year to New York to check on his grandparents’ orchard and works with farmers in California’s Central Coast to improve crop yields and quality. Today, he discusses how drones help farmers monitor their crops and farms, from pre-planting to post-harvest.
For Bennett Kireker, UAVs will become almost ubiquitous in tomorrow’s farms. Their applications, according to the MIT Technology Review, are now solving real-life agricultural problems. Bennett J Kireker is excited about these technologies as they can help both small and large farmers feed a population that is projected to increase its food demand significantly soon. Below are three more agricultural applications of drone technology.
Irrigation. Bennett Kireker, New York native, has read that drones can be fitted with all sorts of cameras and sensors to capture different kinds of data. These include thermal sensors and infrared cameras, which can indicate soil moisture and temperature levels, including the plots that require more water. Once the crops are planted, aerial photographs can help farmers calculate vegetation levels, which are indicators of the health of the crop. Both technologies play vital roles in the planning of irrigation channels and water sources.
Crop Health Assessment. Different kinds of vegetation emit and reflect different kinds of light, which can only be spotted using specialized cameras. The same applies to both healthy and unhealthy plants, including those which are affected by fungal or bacterial diseases. Drones give farmers a bird’s eye view of tree conditions, which, because of their height, cannot be spotted from the ground. Aerial photos and near-infrared photos can track plant health over a period to establish infection trends and to help determine the next course of action. This, Bennett J Kireker believes, can make decision-making faster and more efficient.
Close-Up Crop Monitoring. Before drones came into wide use, farmers had to rely on satellite imagery to monitor their crops from the air. However, for Bennett Kireker of New York, satellite images are unreliable due to different factors. For instance, the distance between the satellite and the farms could affect the image quality. Second, because satellite images are sent only once a day, they were of little help when dealing with situations that require real-time action. Third, the cost was prohibitive for most farmers. Drones, on the other hand, are low-cost alternatives to satellites and offer better image quality under a variety of weather conditions.