The American Farm Bureau Federation, together with drone solutions company Measure, have released a study that identifies and quantifies the benefits of drone technology in precision agriculture.
“While lots of drone hardware has been sold to farmers, until today no tool existed to help growers actually quantify whether the benefits exceed their costs, especially when farmers want to outsource these types of services,” said Justin P. Oberman, President of Measure. “Working with the Farm Bureau and our partners, we have created the only ROI Calculator™ for drone use in precision agriculture. This tool will help growers understand how drone technology can improve their performance for the benefit of consumers in the U.S. and around the world.”
The ROI Calculator™ quantifies the economic benefits of Drone as a Service® for three applications: field crop scouting, 3D terrain mapping, and crop insurance. It initially covers corn, wheat, and soybeans and allows growers to quickly and easily determine if drone technology warrants further exploration after they input information about their farm into the ROI Calculator™. For example, the findings show that for the average U.S. farmer using Drone as a Service® to enhance crop scouting, ROI is $12 per acre for corn, $2.60 per acre for soybeans, and $2.30 per acre for wheat.
“This study and the ROI Calculator™ will help make drones a reality for farmers and ranchers,” said Julie Anna Potts, Executive Vice President and Treasurer of the American Farm Bureau. “Every year we must feed more people on the same fields while protecting the environment we all share. Precision agriculture and drones in particular will be an important part of executing on that mission.”
Version 1.0 of the ROI Calculator™ will be available as a web-based application on the Measure website in the coming weeks; additional functionality will be added over time to include more drone applications and types of crops.
The study is a result of coordinated efforts from a number of sources. Principal sponsors of the study are the American Farm Bureau Federation, GeoSilos, Lockheed Martin, and PepsiCo. Participating sponsors are ADM Crop Risk Services, AGCO, American Farm Bureau Insurance Services, Beck’s Hybrids, Co-Alliance, Conservis, GROWMARK, PrecisionHawk, Rembrandt Foods/Farm Nutrients, Richardson International, J.R. Simplot Company, Willis Group, WinField Solutions/Land O’ Lakes, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana State University, and Iowa Farm Bureau. Informa Economics provided key guidance and research throughout this effort.