I’m a fan of drones as you may know and own several, and agriculture is one area where they are genuinely useful. Still it surprised me that the ROI (return on investment) on their use is as much as $15 per acre.
In agriculture they’re used for crop scouting, flying over fields to check for problems such as insect and weed problems, poor drainage, checking the condition of the crops, etc. It saves an enormous amount of time because before drones came along farmers would either have to do that themselves or pay for the co-op to do it for them. Using a drone takes a tiny fraction of the time it would take to walk the fields.
And damn, I wish we’d have had one back in the day when the heifers broke out of the pasture and got into the corn field! You ever try chasing a dozen crazed heifers running through a cornfield?
Drones suitable for this kind of thing aren’t cheap. You’re looking at starting out at around $1,700 or so and by the time you add in the cost of extra batteries which can run $75+ each, possibly portable charging systems so you can charge batteries in the field, things like that, you’re well over $2,000 and climbing. Professional quality drones with extended flight times, programmable flight plans, etc. add to the cost quickly. But you can get something like the DJI mentioned in the article or the Yuneec Typhoon that I used to have which is equivalent to it, for around $1,500.
Note: the FAA has finally straightened out all of the rules and regulations, and is now issuing licenses for commercial drone operators that does not require you to spend months of time and ten thousand dollars or more to get a airplane pilot’s license any longer. That ought to help enormously. I should point out that you do not need to get licensed if you are using the drone over your own property for your own use, only if you are going to do it on a commercial basis. But even if you’re flying over your own property you need to register your drone if it’s larger than the little indoor toys, so anything that would be useful for crop scouting etc. is going to have to be registered.