UK farming enterprises are becoming ever more familiar with drone technology and how it has the capability to provide a faster and more complete method of crop data collection. However, a discussion that often gets overlooked when people mention “drones in farming” is how the technology is equally relevant to livestock farmers. In this post we’ll be looking at some of the reasons we believe that livestock farming is going to contribute significantly to the increase in drone adoption within agriculture.
Monitoring field security
Perhaps one of the more straightforward applications, but an important one nonetheless.
Most livestock farmers have, at some point in their life, received that dreaded phone call to say their cows/sheep/pigs/buffalo/alpacas (add relevant animal here) are on the loose. The first question that goes through the mind is always: ‘did I shut that gate?’. If the answer to that is: ‘I’m sure I did’, thoughts then turn to the reality, which is that the fence has not done its job.
A good way to prevent that annoyance is to use a drone to carry out periodic inspections of fencelines. The agile nature of today’s drones, combined with the latest in camera technology means that they can quickly and easily conduct a low-level flight around your field perimeters, whilst at the same time streaming live video footage back to you. This makes it easy, fast and completely effortless for you to rapidly identify the need for repairs without even setting foot in the field.
Monitoring animal welfare
With livestock farmers often being responsible for the welfare of hundreds, if not thousands of animals, it’s clear to see just how big a challenge it can be to monitor the wellbeing of each individual animal.
The quality of the cameras fitted to today’s drones and lower noise level emission from the propellers mean that you are now able to capture crystal clear, close-up footage of individual animals to monitor their behaviour and movement – in real-time – without even having to be in the field. This makes it possible for you to identify an at-risk animal and to start diagnosing what the issue might be.
Furthermore, with the entry of affordable drones with integrated thermal cameras like the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual, you are now able to remotely identify a potentially sick animal by the heat signatures associated with an elevated body temperature.
Intelligent drone software now utilises Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms to automatically detect and count known objects, such as livestock, from a series of processed drone images. This use of the technology can offer you another considerable time-saving.
Automated/autonomous drone operation
Everything we’ve discussed so far is presented in such a way that the tasks are carried out with a drone pilot (ie. you, the farmer) in the loop – in other words, you use a remote controller to fly the drone where you want it to go. However, technology has moved on yet further with the ability now for drones to fly in an “autopilot” mode. To put it simply, you pre-programme a flight route into a piece of software, which then connects to the drone and takes charge of its flight controls to deliver the defined flight route; all without any manual remote controller inputs from you. Some software products even allow the drone camera’s footage to be streamed and stored to the “cloud”. This makes the drone’s data viewable to anyone with access, anywhere in the world!
How you can get started with drones
Contrary to what some people would have you believe, it’s not simply a case of buying yourself a drone and off you go; there are a few steps that you must follow – not just to ensure your legal compliance, but to give you the tools and knowledge you need to squeeze every last drop of potential the technology has to offer you.
At RAWview, we don’t just sell drones; we provide an all-encompassing service to ensure that the technology we supply will make a significant step change to your work. If you’re interested in bringing drones into your business, we’d love to hear from you.