Although highly mechanized, farming remains one of the most labor-intensive industries—especially when it comes to preventing crop failure and maintaining high yields. According to a recent global forecast, the market for agriculture drones will reach $4,209.2 million USD by 2022—growing at a CAGR of about 30%. This rise comes at a time when the global population is approaching 8 billion and there is an increasing demand for improving sustainable farming.
Aside from the most widely used application for these drones—field mapping—there are many other uses that are being developed such as seeding, spraying and even monitoring livestock for disease. Advancements in field mapping using near-infrared technology can now identify stress factors in a plant 10 days before they become visible, thanks to improved camera technology.
Right now North America holds the largest market share for agriculture drones but as the sector grows trials are taking place in areas all over the world. Agriculture drones are much smaller, cheaper and more precise than the technology that precedes them. Flight paths can be computed simply using Google Maps, and data is consolidated in a cloud for use by almost any software.
Sophisticated data collection and monitoring provides a reported return on investment of $12 per acre for corn and $3 per acre for soybeans and wheat. The buzz is creating an increase in awareness among farmers, as the potential for growth is limited only by developing technologies.