Industry Collaborates on Report Measuring Value of Drones in Agriculture


The American Farm Bureau Federation and Measure, a 32 Advisors Company, have released what they call a first-of-its-kind study and subsequent tool for identifying and quantifying the benefits of drone technology in precision agriculture.

The study is a result of coordinated efforts from a number of sources. Principal sponsors are the American Farm Bureau Federation, GeoSilos, Lockheed Martin and PepsiCo. Participating sponsors are ADM Crop Risk Services, AGCO, American Farm Bureau Insurance Services, Beck's Hybrids, Co-Alliance, Conservis, GROWMARK, PrecisionHawk, Rembrandt Foods/Farm Nutrients, Richardson International, J.R. Simplot Co., Willis Group, WinField Solutions/Land O' Lakes, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana State University, and Iowa Farm Bureau. Informa Economics provided key guidance and research throughout the effort.

Version 1.0 of the tool, the ROI Calculator, will be available as a Web-based application on the Measure website in the coming weeks; additional functionality will be added over time to include more drone applications and types of crops.

The ROI Calculator quantifies the economic benefits of Measure’s Drone as a Service for three applications: field crop scouting, 3D terrain mapping and crop insurance.

It initially covers three of the largest production crops – corn, wheat and soybeans -allowing growers to quickly and easily determine if drone technology warrants further exploration after they input information about their farm into the calculator.

For example, the findings show that for the average U.S. farmer using Drone as a Service to enhance crop scouting, the return on investment (ROI) is $12 per acre for corn, $2.60 per acre for soybeans and $2.30 per acre for wheat.

‘While lots of drone hardware has been sold to farmers, until today, no tool existed to help growers actually quantify whether the benefits exceed their costs, especially when farmers want to outsource these types of services,” says Justin P. Oberman, president of Measure. “Working with the Farm Bureau and our partners, we have created the only ROI Calculator for drone use in precision agriculture.”

‘This study and the ROI Calculator will help make drones a reality for farmers and ranchers,’ says Julie Anna Potts, executive vice president and treasurer of the American Farm Bureau. ‘Every year, we must feed more people on the same fields while protecting the environment we all share. Precision agriculture and drones in particular will be an important part of executing on that mission.’

A video of PrecisionHawk’s involvement in the study can be found here.

More on the report can be found here.

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