The Case Of Drones

1320 Words6 Pages
By the year 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.8 billion people. To sustain this enormous population, it is absolutely critical to optimize production of food and water usage. Furthermore, as extreme weather such as droughts and floods become more and more frequent due to climate change, conserving water and increasing food production will become invaluable to sustaining human life. Currently, many farmers in developed countries analyze near-infrared imagery from drones and satellites to gain environmental data about their fields. This technology takes advantage of chlorophyll’s high degree of fluctuation in light reflection from only slight changes in water content. Although this spectrum is invisible to the naked eye,…show more content…
However, as these services are extremely expensive (up to tens of thousands of dollars), they are not accessible to many farmers. In addition to being costly, stringent legal restrictions hinder the usage of this technology. The FAA prohibits the flying of agricultural drones for commercial reasons without a remote pilot airman certificate or the direct supervision of a person who possesses one. This further broadens the economic divide, requiring farmers to either pass an FAA-approved exam and retake the test biannually, or pay monthly fees to hire an operator to fly the drone for them. Alternatively, free spectral data from satellites can also be used to analyze the health of crops in a field. One such source is the European Space Agency, which grants access to its satellite data through the Copernicus Programme. Although the data is free, the means to access it are not. A farmer would need a computer, high speed internet, and the skills to use software and manipulate the data into an interpretable form. All of these factors amount to a nearly insurmountable wall to simply be able to find out how healthy a field is. Furthermore, data obtained from satellite images have a fairly low resolution of 10-20 meters squared per pixel. To put this in perspective, 21 sedans parked in three rows of seven would show up as just one pixel. Resolution this grainy hinders the accuracy and detail of the analysis software, making
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