Farm Progress

Tool created to help determine farmer ROI on UAV use

American Farm Bureau partners on drone/UAV ROI calculator tool for farmers

July 24, 2015

2 Min Read
A multirotor quadcopter drone used for aerial photography flies near a wind turbine on June 7, 2011 near Zeestow, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Farmers could see sizable returns by using drone data to manage their crops, says a new study produced by Informa Economics in partnership with the American Farm Bureau and unmanned aerial vehicle service company Measure.

Related: Yamaha earns crop-spraying UAV exemption; FAA offers drone safety app

Measure says the ROI Calculator study quantifies the economic benefits of drone services for field crop scouting, 3D terrain mapping and crop insurance. Version 1.0 of the ROI Calculator also covers corn, wheat, and soybean crops to help farmers determine if drones are something to consider as part of their farm business.

Initial findings of the ROI Calculator show that for the average U.S. farmer using Drone as a Service – Measure's approach to subscription-based drone data collection – ROI is $12 per acre for corn, $2.60 per acre for soybeans, and $2.30 per acre for wheat.

The ROI function will be available as a web-based application on the Measure website in the coming weeks and additional functionality will be added over time to include more drone applications and types of crops, Measure said.

"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," explained Justin Oberman, president of Measure.

"This [ROI calculator] will help growers understand how drone technology can improve their performance for the benefit of consumers in the U.S. and around the world," he said.

"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."

Related: Corn Farmers See UAV Potential in Crop Production

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.

An AFBF Fact Sheet on the Measure Drone study is available online.

Continued reading: What's your recourse for trespassing UAVs?

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