Welcome to Smart Farming. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines Smart Farming as the following: “Smart Farming is a farming management concept using modern technology to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural products. Farmers in the 21st century have access to GPS, soil scanning, data management, and Internet of Things (IOT) Technologies. By precisely measuring variations within a field and adapting the strategy accordingly, farmers can greatly increase the effectiveness of pesticides and fertilizers, and use them more selectively.”
In anticipation of the federal farm bill in December 2018 that legalized the cultivation of hemp in the US and its territories, Terry Roston founded Tridant, a technological supply chain company that focuses on traceability and blockchain technology and other services needed by companies and government agencies. They explained why using drones in any agriculture setting makes sense. “Sandra comes to INET with a background as a procurement specialist for the federal government,” explained Roston. “My background is in logistics, Internet security, and supply chain management. Combined, we know how to ensure hemp farmers have the tools they need to produce successful crops year after year while complying with the government’s strict procurement and supply chain standards.
Imagine telling a drone to look for a plot of land that meets your criteria for size, shape, topography, drainage and soil type, and within a few minutes, it gives you the GPS coordinates of several potential properties for sale.
“Drones have a 10-mile perimeter, and they can travel at a rate of between 35 and 45 miles per hour/56 to 72 kilometers per hour,” said Thibodeau. “Given these specs, you should be able to virtually visit several properties a day, all without having to spend your entire day on the road driving.”
To keep the soil replete with nutrients, farmers often rotate crops. Some crops deplete the soil of essential nutrients like nitrogen and magnesium. By rotating a crop that replenishes the soil, farmers keep their crops and soil at optimum health. Growing season after growing season — without the use of chemical fertilizers.
Physical items made from hemp are highly biodegradable in general, and hemp even helps fight climate change by sequestering carbon at an impressive rate of efficiency. The beauty of hemp is that one season farmers can plant hemp for textiles and the next for CBD.
Mapping the Terrain
Drones allow farmers to know their plot of land intimately, faster and more efficiently than waiting between two and four growing seasons and lots of trail and error learning.
Drones can tell farmers about the typography and the soil type of each section of the farm. They can also warn about any potential problems, such as drainage issues or areas that are prone to erosion. Knowing these things ahead of time can influence decisions like how far apart to place each hemp seed, what nutrients are needed in one sector but not in another, and which areas to be mindful of to keep a closer eye on.
Drones can also pinpoint the precise location that requires erosion control or extra tilling, for example, boht of which can be done without destroying the plants in the surrounding area. By identifying these issues early, drones can save you a lot of money, time, and energy trying to determine these things on your own. “Having a drone means your decisions are made based on hard data at your fingertips in a matter of moments, thus eliminating gross errors or waiting several planting seasons to discover on your own,” said Roston.
Pesticides, Herbicides, & Fertilizer
Because it has little need for herbicides (like Roundup with known carcinogenic glyphosate), pesticides or fertilizers, hemp is ideal for organic farming. Hemp is hardy and self-reliant, growing high enough and thick enough to crowd out invasive species (weeds). It has a natural resistance to pests.
Hemp can contribute to environmental preservation by acting as a replacement for petrochemicals, timber, and chemical-intensive plants (like cotton, soybeans, and corn) used in the production of many consumer products. In addition to its material utility, industrial hemp scores big in the sustainability category, so you can save your drone for other applications.
Recap: 4 Top Uses for Drone Technology
Smart farming technology is shaping the future of hemp and cannabis cultivation. Here are 4 of the top uses for employing drones for smarter, more efficient hemp cultivation.