The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Measure, an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) advisory company, produced the first-ever study that identifies and quantifies drone technology benefits in precision agriculture.
The Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator quantifies the economic benefits of Measure’s drone as a Service for three applications: field crop scouting, 3D terrain mapping and crop insurance.
It initially covers three of the largest production crops—corn, wheat and soybeans—allowing a farmer to quickly and easily determine if UAS technology will be beneficial to his or her farm.
“This study and the ROI Calculator will help make drones a reality for farmers and ranchers,” said Julie Anna Potts, AFBF executive vice president and treasurer. “Every year we must feed more people on the same fields while protecting the environment we all share. Precision agriculture and drones in particular will be an important part of executing on that mission.”
The findings show the ROI is $12 per acre for corn, $2.60 per acre for soybeans and $2.30 per acre for wheat when a farmer uses Measure’s Drone as a Service.
“While lots of drone hardware have been sold to farmers, until now no tool existed to help growers actually quantify whether the benefits exceed their costs, especially when farmers want to outsource these types of services,” said Justin P. Oberman, Measure president. “Working with the Farm Bureau and our partners, we have created the only ROI Calculator for drone use in precision agriculture. This tool will help farmers understand how drone technology can improve their performance for the benefit of consumers in the U.S. and around the world.”
While solid rules are up in the air, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released business-friendly proposals February 2015. Alabama Farmers Federation’s Carla Hornady said farmers currently aren’t allowed to use UAS technology, but the FAA has allowed university research programs such as Auburn University to use the technology for agriculture research.
“Farmers are constantly looking for the safest and most affordable ways to increase their bottom lines,” said Hornady, Cotton, Soybeans and Wheat & Feed Grain divisions director. “This study shows the huge benefit to not only farmers, but domestic and international consumers.”
Auburn University received the nation’s first FAA approval to operate a new UAS Flight School.
Visit measure32.com for more information about the program.