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November 28, 2023
Drones are being increasingly deployed for agricultural purposes, used to optimize irrigation processes and autonomously maintain crop health. As independent and large-scale agricultural businesses ramp up deployment of these devices, consumers are expected to see a difference in produce prices.
According to Grand View Research, the U.S. agriculture drone market size was estimated at $347.9 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22.8% from 2023 to 2030.
The report highlighted government initiatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture as playing a “crucial role” in the industry’s acceleration, with the agencies offering grants and funding opportunities to support drone uptake.
Technological advancements in hardware, sensors and data analysis were also highlighted as having significantly influenced the adoption of agriculture drones in the U.S., giving drones more accurate capabilities and therefore more value for farmers.
Arthur Erickson, CEO of drone company Hylio, said that with the proliferation of agricultural drones, farmers and businesses will be able to enable significant cost savings across operations, which in turn will have a knock-on effect on consumers.
“Drone technology allows the user to make smarter and more laser-focused decisions about their crop treatment, this translates first and foremost to significant cost savings,” he said. “By only spraying identifiable problem areas, instead of your entire field, the operator can save 70%-plus in input cost; which is a massive profitability boost given that input costs account for typically 30%-plus of a farmers' total expenses.
“If farmers can achieve dramatic savings, as outlined above, then those cost reductions can be passed onto the consumer, everyday Americans, and we can start to get these out-of-control grocery prices back down to reasonable, sustainable levels.”
As well as automating the process of spraying water and nutrients onto crops, agricultural drones can be used to monitor and test soil quality to ensure crops are healthy and even provide livestock monitoring.
Hylio’s drones specifically use an array of sensors for enhanced navigation and autonomous capabilities, including radar-based obstacle detection and avoidance, artificial intelligence for route planning and execution and RTK GPS technology for centimeter-accurate positioning.
“Our drones at this point are utilized on almost every type of crop you can imagine; from specialty crops such as nuts and berries to the traditional row crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat,” said Erickson. “At this point, our customers altogether spray several hundreds of thousands of acres per year.
“There are likely tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans this Thanksgiving that ate food that was treated by Hylio drones.”
Assistant Editor, IoT World Today
Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.
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