The lowdown on drones

Daisy Watford
November 15, 2023
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In 2024, the agricultural drone market is expected to grow to 4.8 billion USD, up from 1.2 billion USD in 2019. As more and more farmers recognise their potential, the price of drones continues to drop while their capabilities keep on building. ‍In this article, we will look at some of the most effective ways to use drones on your farm.

You might not realise it yet but drones are becoming increasingly popular in the farming and agricultural sector. More than just a high tech gadget, drones are yet another example of how farmers are tapping into innovation to improve yield and profitability. 

In 2024, the agricultural drone market is expected to grow to 4.8 billion USD, up from 1.2 billion USD in 2019. As more and more farmers recognise their potential, the price of drones continues to drop while their capabilities keep on building. 

In this article, we will look at some of the most effective ways to use drones on your farm.

Keeping birds away from vines

Birds can have a detrimental impact on farms, gobbling up our crop and resulting in significant economic loss. In New Zealand, drones are becoming a highly effective way to scare birds and protect your crop. 

Drones are also a safer alternative to gas guns and cover a much larger geographical area. As farmers do not have to drive around so much, using drones to scare birds can actually cut down on fuel costs and the amount of lead used in gun cartridges. If drones are used well, you can also cut down on your netting costs, with one Marlborough vineyard opting to remove their nets altogether.  

Depending on what you’re after, there are a range of different drones to choose from. If your primary goal is to stop birds from pecking at your crop, then you can choose a drone that’s designed to make the sound of predator birds. This way, you can sit in one place and tackle your bird problem without having to drive around.

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Drone Farm Mapping

Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and GPS technology provide an unmatched aerial view of the entire farm. This technology offers farmers a level of precision that was previously unthinkable. By creating detailed farm maps, they gain insights into the topography, vegetation, and soil composition, allowing for more informed land management decisions that can be accessed by Google Earth or other satellite based farm mapping software.

Crop monitoring

As well as protecting crop, drones can also be used to monitor growth. With heat sensing and moisture detection, they can tell exactly how well your crops are growing. The thermal sensory features can provide valuable information including individual vine count, missing vine count and canopy gap measurement. The data that’s retrieved from the drone enables farmers to plan and treat their crops accordingly. 

Drones can monitor plant health, providing a more cost effective way to increase your yield. It is also more efficient than satellite images as drones are able to fly closer to the field as well as during cloudy weather conditions. 

On top of that, they can also be used to check the health of the soil, provide accurate field mapping and identify wet and dry patches to enhance your growing experience. For hard to reach areas, there are also drones with spray nozzles for crop and weed spraying, as well as seeding drones that have the ability to plant crops on hilly and hazardous terrain.

One kiwi company that focuses on high quality drones for agriculture is Agridroneco. They use  drones specifically for mapping and spraying. Their T30 spraying drone features a 30 litre spray tank and 16 spray nozzles for extensive coverage. Known for their efficiency, these drones can cover up to 40 acres in one hour and reduce fertiliser use. They can also reach blind spots and identify obstacles. 

Weed Control

Using spray drones for spot spraying in agriculture offers several significant benefits. Firstly, it allows for precision in application, targeting specific areas that require treatment while minimising the risk of overspraying,. Additionally, spray drones can access challenging or hard-to-reach areas that are often inaccessible by traditional ground-based machinery or area that are too small to justify a helicopter. Moreover, this technology enhances worker safety by reducing the need for manual spraying  in potentially hazardous conditions. The ability to adapt to varying terrain and optimise chemical use makes spray drones a sustainable and cost-effective solution, ultimately promoting more eco-friendly and efficient agricultural practices.

Stock management

Drones are an excellent resource for farm managers, offering accuracy and efficiency. Drones can translate data into information that is easy to read. One of the most common ways to use a drone in farming is through stock management.

With the latest tools and technology, farmers can use drones to count and herd stock. Using cameras and thermal imaging, they can monitor the health and movement of your livestock and identify sick animals. 

When it comes to herding sheep and cows, the drones can be fitted with speakers that record and play the sound of a dog barking. One of the benefits of this is that it prevents cows from injuring farm dogs. Don’t worry, though, drones are not going to replace your farm dog anytime soon. In fact, dogs are actually learning to work alongside this type of drone to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

Planning and surveying 

Drones used for planning and surveying can save you lots of time and energy. Great for farm mapping, they provide farmers with a safer and faster way to see all areas of the land. It also reduces bike use and allows you to find and fix maintenance issues quickly. 

At Onefarm, we use drone imaging combined with site visits to get a better understanding of your farm. Using those images and data, we can then create a to-scale digital model of the yard that’s suited to your individual needs. 

When it comes to mapping, Agridoneco offers high precision drones specifically designed for agricultural professionals.The P4 Multispectral features high quality imaging and data capturing to determine crop health. Great for vegetation management, this drone offers accuracy and efficiency with a live NDVI view, 27 minute flight time and a 7 kilometre transmission range.  Agridrone co 


As busy farmers, it’s easy to put marketing on the backburner but it is actually one of your most important assets. If you are struggling to keep up with online marketing, a drone can actually help you to gather and share content.

Drones can capture content, including aerial images and footage which can then be used to promote your business online. With high quality footage, they are a fantastic way to promote your farm on a global scale and can save time and money on sourcing professional photographs. The content that’s generated from drones can also be used to enhance your direct-to-consumer (DTC) business model. 

Working with drones

For farmers who are always looking to the future in pursuit of greater yield, drones are a fantastic option. They are becoming a regular part of modern day farming practices,  saving time and reducing costs.

There are many examples of how kiwi farmers are using drones to their potential. If you want to make the move, do some research and training beforehand to ensure that you are well versed in how to use your drone for farming and agricultural purposes.

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