Drones Could Lift Farmers Out of Poverty
With drone operation prices dropping significantly in the past few years, agricultural drone technology is becoming more attainable to small-scale farmers in developing countries. While farmers can use satellites to monitor crops, this technology is more suitable for large-scale farms and expansive areas of land. Satellites also come with disadvantages. For instance, these systems cannot operate optimally under unfavorable weather conditions. However, the upsides to drone usage have many industry experts expressing optimism. In particular, there are several ways drones could lift farmers out of poverty.

5 Ways Drones Could Lift Farmers Out of Poverty

  1. Drones Revolutionize Crop Health Maintenance. In the agricultural arena, farmers face many challenges when tending to crops, including infestations of fungi, bacteria and other pests. Drones equipped with imaging devices let farmers track the spread of such threats and can provide precise analysis on just how much pesticide is necessary to address the problem. This stops infections from ruining a whole crop and also helps farmers minimize pesticide-induced damage to surrounding areas. Furthermore, farmers can use the detailed datasets that drones collect as proof of crop illness to insurance companies or governments. This ensures that even in an event of significant crop loss, farmers and their families are not destitute. Drones with normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) abilities utilize “detailed color information” to analyze the health conditions of plants.
  2. Drones Allow for Early Detection of Crop Issues and Prompt Intervention. Small-scale farmers in developing countries have two options when weeds or other pests threaten their crops: they can spend significant time dealing with it themselves or spend a share of their precious income on hired help. Drones can fly below cloud cover and collect imagery that could warn farmers of impending problems, allowing for speedy intervention before the issues threaten the whole crop. In this way, drones could lift farmers out of poverty by preventing crop losses and saving farmers both time and money.
  3. In Drought-Prone Regions, Drones Could Improve Crop Stability. Drones equipped with thermal sensors can detect which areas of a field require more moisture. Farmers experiencing drought could use this technology to specifically target the parts of their fields that require water, reducing water wastage. This information could also be helpful in curbing drought-induced crop loss, preventing debilitating impacts on farmers and their families.
  4. Even Before Planting, Drones Help to Optimize Farming. Soil and field analysis before crop plantation is key to a successful harvest. Drones, in particular, are more adept at providing such information in comparison to satellite imagery due to the small scope that drones operate under, which allows for an increased level of detail. Making this technology widely available could result in higher crop yields for farmers in developing countries, which would help lift farmers out of poverty.
  5. Drones Could Improve Outcomes for Livestock Farmers. Farmers can rely on drones to supervise grazing, freeing up time for other agricultural activities. Thermal sensing technology could “find lost cattle,” help track down injured or ill animals and calculate exact herd totals. These tasks can be very time-consuming for livestock farmers and drones could play a vital role in streamlining these tasks.

Looking Ahead

Drones could lift farmers out of poverty by providing invaluable data to make informed and prompt decisions while saving both time and money. This wide range of data allows small-scale farmers to increase their productivity and yields, enabling them to compete with larger farms. These advantages bring economic benefits that positively impact farming households and the economy overall.

Riddhi Bhattacharya
Photo: Pixabay