TR-477 Potential Cropping Benefits of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) Applications

Authors: R. D. Lacewell, P, Harrington

There is much ado about the potential for applications of UAVs to take precision agriculture to the next level. The economic value of UAVs to agriculture has been broadly touted with little basis for the estimates. This paper is an attempt to provide background to the potential value of UAVs improving crop and livestock production. Unfortunately, there is not a simple method to estimate this value.

A first consideration of using UAVs is where UAV technology can assist in making decisions about irrigation, use of nutrients, insect and disease control, and similar issues. The area in which the UAVs cannot provide valuable information and impact decisions by producers relates to weather-related losses such as hail, wind, blowing dust, cold, excessive moisture, drought, and such. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to identify losses and expenses where a UAV with appropriate sensors could have a positive impact of reducing losses in yield and quality. Several sources of information are used to develop estimates for Texas and then for the U.S. This effort is based on crops due to lack of availability of livestock information.