Aerial image of maize field by drones

Drones find a new role in protecting our soil

According to the BBC, a forthcoming report containing proposals by the Angling Trust, WWF and the Rivers Trust (supported by RSPB) is likely to recommend “squadrons of drones” are utilised to locate areas of UK farmland in need of protection from soil degradation.

The BBC article indicates that the organisations identify poor farming as the “chief cause of the UK’s decline in the health of rivers, and a major contributor to flooding.”

A large-scale drone analysis of agricultural land could therefore be very helpful in maintaining fields for future generations and in reducing the estimated £1.2bn costs associated with poor agricultural practice.  It could also identify areas of farmland in need of protection from natural soil erosion.

Identifying at-risk areas, e.g. flood areas and blocked watercourses, can be challenging because of their hard to reach locations, however drones have already proven to be effective.  In a recent Environment Agency trial in Herefordshire, drones guided by contour maps located areas in maize and potato fields where soil would likely be lost in heavy rain. The organisations suggest that investing in work to stop soil loss “would pay back many times over” as future crop farming would be improved. The report also identifies further long term cost saving advantages such as lower water bills and less diesel expenditure from reduced ploughing.

The benefits of agricultural soil protection, potentially aided by drone technology, are wide reaching; not only could future farming be improved, but it is noted that angling, tourism and wildlife would benefit, too.

To find out how drones may help your agricultural business, or if you have a hard-to-reach area of land that would benefit from an aerial viewpoint, please contact us.


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