Agricultural drones are on the brink of becoming the new workhorses on farms. With the focus on productivity in agriculture spiraling upward in the farming sector, drones could be the answer to improved automation and precise control of farm monitoring and operations. Already, robots are beginning to transform the way the agriculture sector functions and the advent of agricultural drones could take that change to a whole new level. According to a report released by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the market for agricultural robots is expected to surpass US$16 bn by 2020, up from US$817 mn in 2013. Agricultural drones are anticipated to account for a significant portion of the overall agricultural robots industry in the near future.
Analysts expect the market for agricultural drones to receive a boost from government authorities as it has the potential to employ close to a 100,000 people in the next 10 years, thus contributing remarkably to the world’s economy.
Companies have been quick in spotting this opportunity and have already lined up a bevy of agricultural drones, each designed for a specific purpose, for farmers looking to bring more technology to their farming practice. The market has just taken flight with companies such as GoPro announcing the launch of drones in 2016. E-commerce websites such as Amazon and eBay have stocked commercial drones and are estimated to expand their portfolio by adding agricultural drones in the next few months.
Agricultural drones are likely to be among the top revenue generators in the overall commercial drones industry. There are several operations on a farm where the use of drones can improve the status quo. For instance, drones can be used for thermal imaging to tell which patches in a farm need more pesticides or water by providing information on whether specific sections of the farm have distressed crops. Farmers can also use thermal imaging provided by agricultural drones fitted with infrared cameras to determine when the time is ready to harvest crops.
Global Agricultural Drones Market: Drivers and Opportunities
The opportunities are just beginning to emerge in the global agricultural drones market and will only expand over the next decade. The market is also projected to receive a push owing to the fact that many people are not keen on working on farms, as income is dependent heavily on the weather and the risks are becoming increasingly high because of the vagaries of the weather. The use of drones could bring the ability to monitor farm and weather conditions within the reach of the average farmer, thus boosting the confidence of stakeholders in the agricultural sector worldwide.
In countries where agriculture still forms the backbone of the economy, opportunities can be tapped in areas such as pesticide and insecticide spraying, seeding, pest control, mapping and thermal imaging, and remote sensing. The Internet of Things would prove to be the launch pad for the global agricultural drones market, bringing more transparency to the overall farming process. Thus, besides drones ushering in an era of digital farming, they would also create a massive sales and service market. The need for software and applications designed specifically for the agricultural sector would provide new opportunities in the technology industry.
Global Agricultural Drones Market: Competitive Overview
Competition in the global agricultural drones market is just beginning to intensify with the launch of novel products. For instance, FLIR, a company that manufactures thermal imaging cameras, has brought to the market a drone camera that offers a heat map of farms. Companies that currently operate in the global drones market include AeroVironment, Yamaha, DJI, GoPro, GoPro, Google, and Boeing. Many of these would be strong contenders in the global agricultural drones market in the near future.
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