As a tech company, we’re inspired by ways technology can solve complex challenges faced by the world. When it comes to making farming more efficient and more sustainable, many different technologies play a role. One example that’s of special interest to us is drones.

Monitoring crops from the air

In the last year, the popular media has placed a lot of emphasis on delivery drones. But as it turns out, drones are also a valuable tool in a farming method called precision agriculture. This approach relies heavily on remote sensing and GPS technologies to collect data about small-scale field conditions.

Drones can be equipped with remote sensing hardware such as infrared (IR) sensors to capture very accurate measurements on crop health. This technology is already in use in sub-Saharan Africa, where extreme heat and drought have intensified due to climate change. Drones mounted with IR sensors can detect plant stress 10 days before it’s visible to the naked eye. This info tells the sub-Saharan farmers exactly where to apply water, fertilizer, or pesticide to save their crops – saving them time, resources, and most importantly, their livelihoods.

Drones can help improve crop yields

According to industry analysts at Owen Wyman, using drones for precision agriculture could improve crop yields by 15 percent, while reducing fertilizer use by 40 percent. Alongside other methods, it appears drones could play a helpful role in meeting the world food demand.

While drones are getting cheaper each year, those loaded with sophisticated sensors are unaffordable for the vast majority of the world’s farmers. That said, governments and agencies can use drones to collect invaluable data about the land resources and crops being cultivated. And that data can be used to help farmers indirectly through more informed agricultural policymaking.

Want to read more on drones? Learn how the software inside makes a difference.