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Drones Set to Disrupt Farming as DJI Launches its First Agricultural UAV

DJI has unveiled the DJI Agras MG-1, an octocopter that is capable of carrying 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and is also the company’s first agricultural drone.

DJI’s New Agriculture Drone

If there is one manufacturer that everybody knows when they think of drones for photography and videography, then it is DJI. The Chinese technology firm is the world’s market leader for consumer unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Now, they are stepping out of the consumer drone market and entering the agriculture drone market with a new model. This market is extremely small at the moment, but DJI intends to reap massive profits by simplifying the crop dusting process for farmers.

DJI has unveiled the DJI Agras MG-1, an octocopter ( 8 rotors instead of the usual 4 for quadcopters) that is capable of carrying 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of liquid chemicals for spraying over crops and farms. This is in fact the company’s first agricultural drone.

This drone has three flight modes – automatic, semi-automatic, and manual. Depending on the terrain, users can decide which mode they want to set their drone in. According to DJI, the Agras MG-1 can spray chemicals over a land of 10 acres in one hour.

This makes the drone far more efficient than manual spraying. And the advantages gained by using drones for agriculture purposes are massive.

DJI PHANTOM 4

DJI is best known for its commercial drones such as the DJI PHANTOM 4 (pictured)

Why use UAVs in Agriculture?

With DJI releasing a drone for agricultural purposes, we can see a shift in the way we conduct farming operations. There is a desire to improve the production and efficiency of husbandry. Is the manner in which we cultivate crops now so inefficient? Well, let’s see how it’s done. Currently, people spray pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals manually, or via small manned aircraft that spray from such a high distance there is always risk of polluting the surrounding environment.

Farmers and the surrounding nature may be dji-agras-mg-1always at risk due to the manual nature of agriculture today. Even when farmers use crop dusters (agricultural aircraft), they still need to pilot a plane to spray chemicals over their crops. This is an expensive method of fertilizing crops, using an airplane to spray chemicals. This is where drones come in. Agricultural UAVs offer a cheaper, healthier, and more effective method of spraying farm crops.

Agriculture drones will eventually replace crop dusters and farmers manually spraying chemicals. Farmers can now stay in the comfort of their home and remotely control drones to spray pesticides and fertilizers. These drones are like unmanned crop dusters. By keeping people away from the spraying process, their lives are not put at risk. Health and safety will not be a concern any longer.

Drones do not have to be only for deployment purposes; they can also be used for monitoring the fields. With drones being equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, they are able to measure and detect things in crops that may prove too difficult for farmers to detect or measure on their own.

Drones ultimately allow farmers to treat their crops with much better precision and accuracy.

dji-agras-mg-1Agriculture drones are far faster than any manual method in existence. Drones operate independently and can cover a much larger area in a much shorter time. This is perfectly demonstrated by the Agras MG-1’s coverage of 10 acres per hour. UAVs are far cheaper than traditional spraying techniques, too.

Manual spraying can kill off many bugs and insects in the wildlife that are not even in the spraying area. Due to drag, chemicals are sprayed in areas unintended when crop dusters are employed. This is extremely detrimental to the environment and wildlife, putting many creatures at risk. The environmental impact of drones is minimal, so there is almost no damage or cost incurred.

Imagine being a farmer who currently uses manual means of spraying chemicals and does not incorporate technology to monitor crops. These serious problems mentioned here can be easily averted using drones for both spraying and monitoring.

For instance, consider the Agras MG-1. Simply control it and program it to run a particular course, and the drone will hover over the crops and release chemicals. These will be confined to that one area (because of the lack of drag), making it safe for the environment.

dji-agras-mg-1-silhoute

Waiting for Worldwide Acceptance

The Agras Mg-1 will launch in China first, giving farmers a taste of what happens when you fuse traditional agriculture with modern technology. The boost in productivity and efficiency as well as the safety and health of workers will be observed in no time.

China has already passed laws to allow drones to be used on farms. Europe is quickly following suit and are already having laws passed to permit the use of such drones for agriculture. Europe is eagerly looking forward to modernize their farming process and many companies are waiting for more agreeable legislation in order to start business.

One nation that has not yet hopped on that bandwagon is the United States.

However, the US government is in talks to approve the use of drones in farming. This will make it easier for DJI to achieve worldwide success when more nations are open to the prospect of using drones to automatically deploy chemicals. If agriculture drones can be employed in three of the biggest markets, then DJI’s Agras MG-1 will be very successful by virtue of its name alone.

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