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How Drones are Creating Sustainable Farming Practices in the Digital Age

When Dr. Shaun Passley saw a need for innovation in the agriculture industry, he turned to drone technology for a solution. A drone’s ability to provide precise, accurate, and real-time aerial information seemed to hold countless applications for farming. Shaun believed that the proper engineering could result in drones that would help farmers optimize their efforts and produce high-quality harvests.

As Shaun began to explore how drones could be applied to agricultural development, he became more convinced that drone tech provided a much needed solution to many of the challenges farmers were facing. His mission eventually led him to found ZenaDrone and create the ZenaDrone 1000, an intelligent unmanned aerial vehicle designed to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to modernize farming around the world. Now, Shaun and ZenaDrone are taking their revolutionary approach to farming to the next level by introducing a program they call DaaS — Drones as a Service — that will be available soon to farmers in Ireland.

“Agriculture technology is the way of the future,” Shaun says. “Farmers that embrace it give themselves access to powerful tools for increasing their productivity and profits. Our DaaS platform empowers farmers to save time and money while increasing their yield and decreasing their waste.”

Making the shift to sustainable farming

One of the key benefits that drone technology brings to agriculture is its ability to assist in transitioning from traditional to sustainable farming. By employing ZenaDrone’s DaaS platform, farmers gain access to efficiencies and flexibility that make accessible something that has long been cost prohibitive.

The area of pestilence protection provides one example of the value ZenaDrone can bring to farmers. Traditional methods of combating pests involved wide-scale spraying of pesticides, a process that was not only costly to farmers, but also harmful to the environment. Drones provide the capability to detect pest problems as they are emerging and treat them with drones equipped to deliver pesticides with a high degree of precision. This surgical approach to delivering pesticides can save farmers as much as 90 percent on spraying costs and result in a more sustainable practice.

“Agricultural pests are a huge problem for farmers, posing the threat of crop destruction and substantial capital loss,” explains Shaun. “Detecting emerging pest problems is critical for farmers. Once detected, the problems need to be treated immediately. Drone technology handles both of these problems with an ease that was never before dreamed of.”

ZenaDrone’s DaaS platform provides farmers with a field scanning service that collects accurate data on locations designated for review. The scanning uses GPS tracking, multispectral sensors, and high-definition cameras to give farmers an ongoing, accurate assessment of the health of their crops and the areas that need attention.

By combining geotagging as a tool for tagging plants with thermal detection, ZenaDrone’s technology can detect early plant stress that is invisible to the naked eye. That information can help farmers to address issues before they spread to other plants, thus limiting their impact on the harvest yield.

Zenadrone is also capable of using an AI-based program for plant tracking and growth rate that can detect growth retardation, benchmark yield, and phenotype plants. By collecting and analyzing this data, farmers can predict their future yield and determine what steps need to be taken to improve it.

Making the conversion to organic farming

The ZenaDrone DaaS platform also provides farmers with a powerful tool for converting their operations from conventional to organic farming. Organic farming not only reduces negative environmental impacts, but also results in a crop that is more lucrative for farmers, often earning them 30 percent more than the same crops cultivated with conventional methods. The challenge for farmers is managing pests, disease, and weeds without using conventional pesticides and fertilizers.

However, the DaaS provides another tool for overcoming this challenge. By scheduling regular autonomous flight missions, farmers can use drones to capture data accurately, vividly, and in real-time. The drone’s multispectral sensors can even reveal when plants are not receiving the proper hydration. The data empowers farmers to make informed decisions quickly, ensuring that the necessary steps are taken to promote overall crop health.

AgTech is the future of farming

Introducing drone technology to the world of agriculture opens the doors to endless innovations. Current applications are empowering farmers to gain novel and actionable insights with unprecedented levels of efficiency, safety, and dependability. In addition, a new generation interested in sustainability and technology are being drawn to farming because of the growth of agricultural technology, or AgTech.

“Zenadrone’s proven technology gives farmers the tools they need to earn more on their crops while spending less on materials, processing, and labor,” says Shaun. “In addition, it empowers the implementation of more sustainable farming methods. It’s a win for everyone — the farmer, their community, and the generations to come.” 

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