When agriculture makes a top 10 list of technologies that are “breakthroughs that will matter for years to come,” you can bet that I jumped up a bit and took notice. Sure, it’s not uncommon for ag publications to provide lists of top technologies. It’s entirely different when an agriculture technology is mentioned alongside things such as brain mapping, neuromorphic chips, genome editing and Oculus Rift.
To be honest, I didn’t have a clue about these technologies. So what was this breakthrough technology that is a “true milestone” that will “solve thorny problems or create powerful new ways of using technology?”
It’s the drone.
According to this article in the MIT Technology Review (yes, that MIT) cheap drones “with advanced sensors and imaging capabilities are giving farmers new ways to increase yields and reduce crop damage.”
It’s a perfect marriage of the ability to collect precise data cheaper and in greater amounts, and use this data to farm more efficiently and more precisely.
Are you using a drone on your farm yet? A good winter reading assignment would be to research drones and perhaps go to a seminar or two. This technology is moving at warp speed.
But it’s not just about the drones and being able to fly the things like some fancy kid’s toy. A drone, like anything else for the farm business, is a tool. You can have the most expensive, most technically advanced planter on the market, but if you are not setting it up properly, or planting the wrong hybrids, or not managing your weed control,all you have is an expensive planter.
Same goes with drones. You can learn how to fly and land drones, maybe buzz over a neighbor’s tractor, but the payoff will be taking the data from the drone and using it to your advantage.
Because it all comes down to data, and how to manage it.