Many farmers who own drones may not use them as frequently as they thought they would when they were purchased. Often, the drone is used as more of a targeted tool instead of having a broad application throughout a field. However, the increased availability of 5G technology could change that.
According to Scott Burroughs, owner of Bottom Line Solutions in Morton, IL, farmers jumped to buy drones two to three years ago, but because the technology can be cumbersome, they are not being used to their full potential. Scouting an entire field with a drone can take several hours to complete; downloading the data footage can be a long process, sometimes taking more time to get usable data.
“If I have a drone and I’m out flying my field, it’s a handy tool and I can do it, but many guys end up ground truthing and going back to boots on the ground scouting for the most practical applications,” Burroughs said.
Although keeping up with drone technology can prove to be time consuming, he predicts that 5G availability will allow drones to be more useful.
“With the enhancement of 5G and the sensing technology that’s coming, I think we could get back to the drone and make it a more useful tool than it is today,” he continued.
Drone sensing technology includes location sensors to pinpoint exact coordinates, optical sensors that use light to monitor soil properties, and electrochemical sensors that provide pH and soil nutrient levels. More in-depth data requires faster transmission - and that’s where 5G technology comes into play.
5G enables data to travel faster, including instantly downloading it to cell phones or tablets. As farmers are better able to utilize the data these high-powered sensors can provide, they can begin making real-time decisions on their field, even as they view drone footage live.
“I think this will bring a resurgence of ‘doing things we couldn’t do’,” Burroughs said.
He continued, “Transitioning to 5G is uncharted waters, but given what we think it is, it will be a superhighway that will offer great connectivity and really enhance the data transfer and with that, the imagination takes over and we start to think, ‘What can we do? What is possible?’”