The Agriculture Drones’ Market: With the focus on productivity in agriculture spiralling upward in the farming sector, drones could be the answer to improved automation and precise control of farm monitoring

Published Date: 03/05/2021

The Agriculture Drones’ Market is expected to grow from USD 1355.64 million in 2020 to USD 3697.40 million by 2027 at a CAGR of 20.20 % from 2020 to 2027. 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.

The extensive use of agriculture drones in seeding, spraying, and livestock farming has drawn the attention of venture capitalists. Consequently, UAV manufacturers are receiving funds from venture capital firms such as Qualcomm Ventures (US), Andreessen Horowitz (US), Draper Associates (US), Intel Capital (US), Felicis Venture (US), Lux Capital (US), and Google Ventures (US).

Air traffic management (ATM) is closely related to safe and economical air transportation. At present, various development programs for agriculture drones are rapidly progressing toward the operational stage. With the huge rise in numbers of agriculture drones, suitable airspace traffic management is needed to avoid accidents and collisions.

Recently, the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107) has made a major impact on how drones can and are being used across industries, including agriculture. Mostly concerned toward the agricultural industry, the rules suggest the ways for the use of drones by farmers and ranchers, and define the requirements and provisions to conduct remote sensing operations over farms and ranches.

DJI (China), PrecisionHawk (US), Trimble Inc. (US), Parrot (France), 3DR (US), AeroVironment, Inc. (US), Yamaha Motor Corp. (Japan), DroneDeploy (US), AgEagle Aerial Systems, Inc. (US), and OPTiM Corp. (Japan) are some of the major players in the agriculture drone’s market. Major innovators in this market are senseFLY (Switzerland), Pix4D (Switzerland), Sentera Inc. (US), SlantRange (US), ATMOS UAV (Netherlands), Delair (France), and Nileworks Inc. (Japan).

U.S. agricultural drones market size was over 30% of the global revenue in 2016. Rising trend of implementation of UAVs for enhanced productivity and increasing awareness of precision agriculture for crop scouting and field mapping is expected to drive the industry growth in this region. APAC agricultural drones’ market will benefit from growing adoption and technological developments. Companies are investing in the region to develop low cost and effective UAVs for numerous applications in the agricultural sector.

Public safety concerns and the lack of trained pilots are the major factors restraining the industry growth as the UAVs require safe operation to avoid accidents or emergency situations in farms. Stringent government regulations will hamper the wide adoption of the agricultural drone’s market. Maintaining UAVs as a legal entity and securing privacy rights and air safety is a major concern for this industry. Countries such as Nepal, Kenya, and India have bans or strict restrictions on UAV usage. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) works with policy makers and the public to make use of UAV technology legal for civilian use.