The good and the bad of drones – what you need to know for your farm
Technology within the farming industry is evolving at a rapid pace, with new smart devices bringing about major change to long established traditional farming methods.
One of the most significant recent advancements regarding such technology is the drone, otherwise known as a small unmanned aircraft or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).
Within the farming industry, early adopters have already realised positive agricultural benefits associated with the use of drones, in everyday activities ranging from:
- Precision agriculture and accurate data: increased efficiency in planting, measuring, scanning and monitoring development of crops, reducing costly and hazardous spraying of fertilisers and pesticides.
- Soil and field analysis: producing 3D maps and thermal imagery for early soil analysis.
- Livestock: tracking, herding of livestock and shepherding of sheep.
Drone usage in a farming context has taken the spotlight in recent months, but not necessarily for their farming benefits. Burglaries are one negative adaptation of the new technology, where drones are allegedly used to scope out farm properties and machinery as possible targets.
Whether they’re used to farmers’ benefit or detriment, it is certain that as drones become more hi-tech and accessible, their influence within farming is sure to increase. And, as use becomes more widespread within a farming context, so too will the legal obligations and implications.
Health and safety at work
The risk of personal injury or damage is increased with the use of drones, as with any technology in its infancy, and those who control it are responsible for identifying safety hazards and risks.
However, the use of technology and drones could also be explored to help minimise risk or prevent unnecessary farm accidents. For instance, could the use of drones lead to reduced accidents arising from quads in herding livestock in difficult terrain?