Environmental Benefits Of Agritech Drones In Agriculture

By Amandeep Panwar February 20, 2024

Through precision farming enabled by agritech drones, farmers can optimise crop rotation and cover cropping strategies

Environmental Benefits Of Agritech Drones In Agriculture
In regions where water resources are scarce or overused, drones can help farmers optimise irrigation practices. Shutterstock

In today’s era marked by environmental challenges and the urgent need for sustainable solutions, the integration of agriculture and technology plays a prominent role in aiding farmers in combating climate change and environmental degradation. 

The use of drones in agriculture not only boosts crop yields and reduces losses but also brings substantial environmental benefits by decreasing the carbon footprint through reduced chemical use and improved resource management.

Traditional agriculture, known for its heavy resource demands, often resulted in excessive water, pesticide, and fertiliser usage. This not only contributed to soil degradation but also posed threats to surrounding ecosystems. 

However, the introduction of agritech drones is reshaping the landscape by offering a range of environmental advantages.

Reducing Agriculture’s Carbon Footprint

Agriculture’s carbon footprint is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for an estimated 10–12 percent of worldwide GHG emissions. The data collected through the drones allows the farmers to reduce agri-input usage, optimise resources, and make better decisions.

Drones for Precision Farming

Drones play a pivotal role in precision farming, enabling early detection of crop issues and efficient resource management while minimising environmental impact. 

Equipped with advanced sensors like hyperspectral and multispectral, drones collect invaluable data that empowers farmers to optimise inputs, reduce wastage, and increase yields, all while promoting environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

The use of drone technology for crop monitoring has a positive impact on the environment by facilitating sustainable farming practices that reduce carbon footprints and enhance profitability.

These capabilities also improve decision-making for farmers, aiding them in identifying areas for immediate action. Additionally, this technology enhances resilience for climate change, as farmers can enhance yields by getting real-time data and detecting crop stress early, allowing for timely intervention.

Reducing Chemical Usage

Precision farming methods not only lead to higher yields but also mitigate environmental effects, such as emissions from agricultural machinery and pesticide runoff into water sources.

Farmers can apply fertiliser only where it is needed by using technology like satellite imagery and remote sensors to precisely map fields down to individual plants. This reduces fertiliser loss through runoff and leaching during the growing season. Another significant advantage is the reduction in chemical usage.

Targeted Pest Management

Traditional farming often involves widespread chemical application, which can result in environmental pollution and ecosystem degradation. Drones equipped with hyperspectral sensors can detect areas affected by pests or diseases, enabling precise pesticide application. This targeted approach minimises chemical use and prevents soil and water contamination.

According to research data, precise data has enabled farmers to reduce herbicide use by an estimated 9 percent, with the potential to further decrease it by 15 percent with full adoption.

Such practices can significantly reduce the carbon footprint in agriculture while also improving farmers’ profitability and sustainability.

Erosion Control and Soil Health

Agritech drones also contribute to erosion control and improved soil health. By monitoring fields for signs of erosion and soil compaction, farmers can take proactive measures to prevent soil loss and degradation.

Drones can provide detailed topographic maps, allowing farmers to implement precision land management techniques, such as contour farming and reduced tillage, which minimise soil disturbance and erosion. 

Healthy soils are more resilient to climate fluctuations and can absorb and retain water efficiently, reducing the risk of drought and water pollution.

Water Conservation

Another significant environmental benefit of agritech drones is water conservation. In regions where water resources are scarce or overused, drones can help farmers optimise irrigation practices. By collecting data on soil moisture levels and crop water requirements, drones enable precise irrigation scheduling.

This prevents overwatering, reduces water wastage, and prevents the leaching of fertilisers and pesticides into groundwater, preserving water quality and aquatic ecosystems.

Reduced Energy Consumption

Compared to traditional farming practices that involve heavy machinery for field scouting and pesticide application, agritech drones are more energy-efficient. They require less fuel and emit fewer greenhouse gases, further reducing the carbon footprint of agriculture. Additionally, the use of electric drones powered by renewable energy sources can make farming operations even more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Carbon Sequestration

Through precision farming enabled by agritech drones, farmers can optimise crop rotation and cover cropping strategies. These practices not only enhance soil health but also contribute to carbon sequestration. Healthy soils can store more carbon, helping mitigate climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By actively participating in carbon sequestration efforts, farmers using agritech drones align agriculture with broader climate goals.

In conclusion, the use of agritech drones in agriculture holds tremendous promise not only for increasing agricultural productivity but also for promoting environmental sustainability. 

These drones, equipped with advanced sensors and data analytics, empower farmers to make informed decisions that reduce resource wastage and minimise the environmental impact of agriculture. As we face growing environmental challenges, the adoption of drone technology in farming represents a crucial step towards a more sustainable and resilient agricultural future.

(Amandeep Panwaris the director & co-founder of BharatRohan.)