Webinar: The future of agriculture: Drones revolutionizing farm productivity

Table of contents

On August 16, 2023, DroneXperts hosted a webinar: The future of agriculture: drones revolutionizing farm productivity. The presentation was given by Pier-Yves Genest, strategic coaching consultant. Discover below, the written summary of this event.

DroneXperts center of expertise

We are pioneers and leaders in Canada, with an innovative center of expertise offering drone technology (sales and/or rental), training, consulting and service all in one place. Our team of experts has been supporting companies with confidence since 2012, and also offers unrivalled human and professional service.

Drone regulations for the agricultural sector in Canada

In Canada, to fly a drone, you need a pilot certificate. You must either hold a basic operations certificate, which only allows you to fly your drone in uncontrolled airspace. Or the second option is to obtain a certificate in advanced operations, which will enable you to fly your quadricopter in controlled airspace. In the agricultural sector, in most cases, certification in basic operations will suffice.

Drones weighing less than 250 grams are not subject to registration. However, all other drones weighing between 250 g and 25 kg must be registered. This includes custom-built drones, ready-to-assemble drones or over-the-counter drones.

To register your drone, visit Transport Canada’s drone management portal.

If you’d like to learn more about drone regulation in Canada, you can read the blog post : What are the regulations for drones in Canada? Discover our guide.

The advantages of drones in agriculture

In this webinar, our consultant addresses a number of points, including agricultural issues and the advantages and limitations of UAVs. Discover below the non-exhaustive lists of each item covered.

The main challenges facing agriculture :

  • Increased climatic stress on plants;
  • Difficult-to-reach locations (weather-related issues) ;
  • New insects, predators and diseases;
  • Operating costs ;
  • Labour shortage.

The main advantages of the drone :

  • Environmentally-friendly technology;
  • Georeferenced data ;
  • Numerical data ;
  • Automated analysis of collected data ;
  • Intuitive technology ;
  • Very low running costs ;
  • Diversity of sensors.

Drone limits:

  • Weather conditions ;
  • Load capacity ;
  • Autonomy (varies according to model).

The different drones and their applications

The DJI Mini 3 Pro

Weighing in at 249 g, the Mini 3 Pro is equipped with enhanced safety features, making it not only compliant with regulations, but also the safest in its series. Explore more of your surroundings with extended flight times of up to 34 minutes. With its gimbal, it offers a wide rotation range for low-angle shots and real vertical shots. To find out more, go directly to our product page.

The DJI Mavic 3 multispectral

Designed for high-precision aerial surveys, crop growth monitoring and natural resource surveys, the DJI Mavic 3 Multispectral drone combines an RGB camera with a multispectral camera to accurately scan and analyze crop growth.

Orchard mapping : In conjunction with DJI Terra or DJI SmartFarm Platform, you can automatically identify the number of trees, distinguish trees from other obstacles or objects, and generate 3D operating routes for agricultural drones, the multispectral Mavic 3 enables aerial surveys of orchards by following the terrain, even on sloping landscapes.

Automatic field monitoring: One-person management of 70 hectares of farmland is simple with the Mavic 3, as it can find anomalies such as emergence deficiencies, weed pressure and crop lodging in real time. Images from field scouting can be shared with the DJI SmartFarm platform via a 4G network. It can also analyze cotton seedling identification and rice production tests, using AI identification to share real-time information on crop growth, and guide agronomic activities.

Guide variable-rate applications: Increase yields, protect the environment and cut costs by generating NDVI maps with DJI Terra or the DJI SmartFarm platform, as well as other vegetation index maps, capturing differences in crop potential and generating prescription maps that enable agricultural drones to run a variable-rate application.

The Wingtra flying wing

The Wingtra GEN II is undoubtedly what represents the most advanced reliability of mapping drones. Whether for field missions or data analysis, the flying wing has been designed to optimize flight time and cover a wider area. This increases productivity, maximizes data collection time and ensures consistent reporting. To learn more about the WingtraOne GEN II drone, please visit our blog post: Discover the WingtraOne GEN II drone and its complete description!

Comparing quadricopters and flying wings

Types of dronesBenefitsDisadvantages
QuadricopterGreat manoeuvrability;
Ability to hover;
More compact in size;
Diversity of cameras and sensors ;
High performance in windy conditions.
Shorter flight range ;
Lower flight speed ;
Smaller covered area.
Flying wingSuperior flight autonomy ;
Largest area covered.

The different sensors and their applications

The RGB camera (visual)

RGB stands for “Red Green Blue”. It designates a video signal that uses the three primary colors to convey and reconstitute the image. In other words, it can detect what the human eye perceives. This tool allows you to :

  • Crop monitoring and mapping ;
  • Draw up site plans and layouts ;
  • Obtain contour lines (irrigation) ;
  • Assessing crop health ;
  • Carrying out a plant inventory ;
  • Inspect agricultural infrastructures.

The thermal sensor

The H20T camera optimizes inspection missions. It is able to optimally capture the elements of interest. Associated functions such as high-resolution grid, tracking or GPS information of the target point, maximize the relevance of the information.

Thanks to this thermal camera, you can carry out a number of different tasks:

  • Assess crop and soil health (temperature difference) ;
  • Irrigation management ;
  • Assessing animal stress/thermal heat;
  • Inspection of infrastructure and equipment (e.g. water or gas leaks).

The concept of precision agriculture

The general aim of precision farming is to harvest as much material and produce as possible, while consuming as little energy and inputs (fertilizers, plant protection products, water) as possible. The aim is to optimize the management of a plot of land. It is in this sense that the drone provides the farmer with a wealth of information that can :

  • Build up a true farm memory;
  • Helping you make decisions ;
  • Supporting the need for traceability;
  • Improve inputs from different zones on the same plot.

If you’d like to find out more about precision farming, or learn more about it, please read our article: Everything you need to know about the drone in precision farming.

Case studies

During this webinar, Pier-Yves presented several case studies:

  • Inventory and health of palm plantations ;
  • Identifying areas where a fungus is contagious ;
  • Estimating the production of a corn crop ;
  • Insect stress monitoring.

For our Xpert’s full explanation and analysis of these case studies, click here.

Drone spraying

This technology is now available from DJI. This subject is being discussed more and more, but it is regulated. In fact, only granular spreading is currently authorized in Canada. Health Canada is currently looking into the matter. If you’d like to go ahead with liquid spraying, the best thing to do is to link directly to their website.

The future potential of drones

What can we expect in the next few years when it comes to agricultural drones? With the evolution of the law, we can hope that liquid spraying will become legal, especially as it is a method with proven effectiveness. What’s more, with the democratization of these tools and ever-evolving technologies, drones will undoubtedly make it possible to detect more insects and/or specific diseases.

If you’d like to watch or review this webinar and obtain further information, we invite you to follow this link.