Viability of Agri Drone Operations


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Hello, my name is Imogen and I have always been passionate about flight and aviation - I started flying as a cadet at 14, used to be an airline executive, have my PPL and am slowly (weather permitting!) learning to fly drones. I also happen to be involved in farming in the UK and would ideally like to marry my two interest fields with some sort of UAV business - agri-uav consultancy (I am a business development analyst and lawyer by training) or training and building up a fleet of agronomist operatives (a kind of airline I guess). Crop scouting and spraying are my specific interest areas here. 

BUT, this is the UK with dodgy weather and a sometimes stubborn agri community, both of which could hinder smooth and timely operation. 

So, especially the Brits out there, do you think this is a good or bad idea? 

Thanks

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Imann - This is very doable, I'd think about it as you help them capture and analyze data. We have a modified GoPro from Multispek (check them out online and ask them some questions) that picks up the full spectrum of light, and crop health can be extrapolated from it. The applications are there, you just need to figure out who your market is, and what information they need/want. 

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Hi Alan and Lewis thanks.

Yes. URSULA is the main and well established one (also utilising satellite and airborne platforms) and also SenSat which is quite new. But I haven't been able to ascertain how many clients each has. I know SenSat is after more image interp pax and has farmer clients in middle England. 

I know that the drones are really just a platform for data capture which is the key as it will lead to interpretation and then hopefully cost saving & higher yield making decisions. Key market I think would initially be agronomists who, from the ones I've met, will need a lot of educating and also reassurance that any investment will give a good roi!

Given that, perhaps I've just talked myself into an educating / consultancy based business! After all flight training and flying can always be outsourced to those more experienced than me, but I would want to keep them for the data solution some how? 

So much to bottom out! But this could be a decent start. Sheep and alpacas are my real area of expertise in agriculture so livestock monitoring and smaller scale spraying could come later (my tractor carries a 400 litre tank but it's such a dangerous pain hooking it up!). 

Thanks for the tip Lewis, will check it out. 

I

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Hi @IMann:)

Currently I trying to build up copter on ArduCopter for testing purposes on small fields. Also I have 2.1meter selfmade flying-wing and 1,6m glider on APM too. The Wing has long enough flight time and I want to integrate s110 camera for NDVI analysis using APM possibilities to control the camera.

You`re right, we have here some large farms and fields. But also we have huge crisis and during last year our currency dropped 3 times to dollar. As UAV components all cost in $, the agro-monitoring service also has to be expensive. So economically better for farmer to hire worker and pay him our cheap money, then to use drone services. So I guess you guys, have better chances for successful bussiness :) Nonetheless I continue research and development of my uavs and will try hard to make the project alive. Just because this will be awesome!  :)

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