6 Best Drones for Agriculture

It can be difficult to find the best drone for agriculture. Whether you need to spray your crops or survey and monitor your fields, not all drones are good for these purposes.  Even though many drones have great features, there are some specific specs, such as data gathering, payload capacity, and flight time, that you must consider.

Hello everyone! My name is Lavelle and I am a drone pilot and a long-time drone enthusiast. Over the past 10 years, I have used my drones for many commercial uses including roof inspections, property inspections, construction inspections, and professional photography/videography services.

In this article, I will cover some of the main features to look for in agriculture drones and I will share with you my list of the best drones for agriculture use.

Key Takeaways

  • Determine your specific needs and choose a drone that meets your standards.
  • Understand the differences between fixed-wing and rotor drones as these features directly impact the productivity of the drone.
  • Look for features that maximize your agriculture efforts such as pesticide application and data gathering.
What is an agriculture drone?

An agriculture drone is an unmanned aircraft that is used in the farming industry to improve crop production and survey farming fields. The drone typically has sensors and imaging capabilities that allow farmers to obtain detailed images of their land and increase farming efficiency.

Yes, there are different types of agriculture drones. There is the rotary drone and the fixed-wing drone. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and it depends on your preference and intended use as to which is best for you.

The cost of agriculture drones varies depending on the features you want in the drone and how you intend to use it. However, you can buy an agriculture drone for as little as $1,500 or as much as upwards of $20,000.

What to Look for in an Agriculture Drone

When choosing an agriculture drone it is important to consider main specs as well as some agriculture specification features.

  • Flying Time: Firstly, consider a drone that has a longer flying time. Most farm fields cover hundreds if not thousands of acres. Having a drone that can cover a lot of land on a single charge is very important for production efficiency.
  • Flying Distance: Look for a drone that can fly a long distance from the controller and that can return home automatically if needed.
  • Stability/Durability: Choose a drone that is stable in the air and is durable enough to handle windy conditions as well as the dusty/dirty conditions that exist on most farm fields.
  • Payload Capacity: You want a drone that has an above-average payload capacity. When it comes to spraying fields, holding liquids, or dropping pesticides, you need a drone that can carry a good amount of weight. Remember also that a heavier payload capacity may drain your battery faster than a drone with a lower payload capacity.
  • Intelligent Features: Lastly, look for a drone that has intelligent features such as the return to home function, an advanced obstacle avoidance system, an FPV feature, and can be used with mapping/surveying software applications.

The 6 Best Agriculture Drones

Below you will find my list of the best agriculture drones. Each of these drones offers unique features that assist in the agriculture process.

1. DJI Agras MG-1 (Best Overall)

  • Carrying Capacity: 10 kg of liquid
  • Liquid Tank Capacity: 10-liter tank
  • Area Range: 7-10 acres per hour
  • Flight Time: 35-minutes

When it comes to payload capacity, the DJI Agras MG-1 is hard to beat. This drone can carry up to 10 kilograms of liquid. That equates to about 22 pounds. It also has a 10-liter (2.6-gallon) liquid tank capacity.

The speed of this drone is remarkable. It can cover 8 meters in a second and covers up to 10 acres of land in one hour. The nearly 2-mile transmission range is also notable.

Even with its heavy payload capacity, the drone can still stay in the air for approximately 35 minutes. That’s an impressive feat given its weight and payload capacity.

This is a smart drone also! The intelligent features on it are nice and include an intelligent spraying system that features an auto-adjust function. Based on the flying speed, the spraying system automatically adjusts to apply the spray evenly at its current speed.

The biggest concern with this drone is that it is known to not perform well on uneven terrain. With agriculture environments often having rough or uneven surfaces, this causes some concern.

My Verdict: The Agras MG-1 is an exceptional drone for agriculture use. Its heavy payload and area coverage capability makes it my top choice for this type of work. The flying time is also impressive. It is a costly drone and it takes an experienced drone pilot to operate it properly and safely.

2. DJI Phantom 4 RTK (Best Ground Control)

  • Carrying Capacity: 4.4 lbs
  • Liquid Tank Capacity: N/A
  • Area Range: 4.3 miles
  • Flight Time: 30-minutes

Another quality agriculture drone is the DJI Phantom 4 RTK. Real-time kinematic (RTK) technology is a mapping and surveying application that allows farmers to carefully survey their crops and fields. This drone is also compatible with the post-production kinematic (PPK) application.

The 20-megapixel camera is a high-resolution imaging system that produces clear and detailed images. The Phantom 4 RTK also has a wider lens which allows farmers to cover more ground in one single shot.

The Phantom 4 RTK is a real workhorse. It allows the user to use a few ground control points, thereby increasing productivity. The GPS capabilities on this drone set it apart from others on this list as well.

However, the biggest drawback is the questionable data collection as reported by several consumer complaints.

My Verdict: This drone can cover 5-8 acres (ground control) and drastically increases efficiency for farmers.

3. AgEagle RX 60 (Best Flying Time)

  • Carrying Capacity: N/A
  • Liquid Tank Capacity: N/A
  • Area Range: 7 miles
  • Flight Time: 60-minutes

The AgEagle RX 60 is an excellent option for agriculture usage. It is designed to capture aerial maps that can determine crop health and identify areas of stress before it becomes apparent to the human eye.

This drone pinpoints areas where chemicals are needed and can provide nutritional data to farmers which dramatically improves production efficiency. With a remarkable 60 minutes of flying time, this model remains airborne for a lengthy period, allowing for more airtime production. The sleek design also allows it to fly in winds up to 30 mph.

The intelligent features of this drone are also impressive. It can launch, lift, and land automatically. This feature saves precious setup time when conducting agriculture services.

My concern with this drone is that while it has excellent agricultural uses, it is limited since it does not have a way to carry liquids. It is primarily used for data retrieval.

My Verdict: This is a reliable drone to use for agriculture work. It is well-designed and has some compelling intelligent features. Its strongest attribute is the lengthy flying time. Availability might be the biggest detractor at this point.

4. PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5 (Most Versatile)

  • Carrying Capacity: N/A
  • Liquid Tank Capacity: N/A
  • Area Range: 1.2 miles
  • Flight Time: 45-minutes

If you’re looking for versatility, this is the drone for you! The PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5 is a highly advanced data-collection drone. It is a fixed-wing drone that is exceptionally designed for agriculture applications.

Another impressive attribute of this drone is its ability to withstand heavy winds and unfavorable field conditions. Its multi-directional sensors allow it to maneuver well in the air and in adverse conditions. If it comes to a rough landing, this drone is well-designed to handle it. The fixed-wing body is built to handle rugged terrains.

From a performance perspective, the Lancaster 5 is equipped with two Linux processors. It has an onboard CPU that is dedicated to the autopilot control feature and a second processor that is dedicated to data management.

Intelligent features are also a hallmark of this drone. The flight control features and inherent intelligent functions are noteworthy and include the ability to adjust to various payloads. The drone can also adjust to unpredictable conditions while continuing to optimize data collection for surveying purposes.

The biggest drawback here is the relatively low area range. This drone can only cover about 1.2 miles before it is out of range for transmission signals. This is concerning since agricultural drones are more beneficial when they can cover large areas. 

My Verdict: The PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5 is the most intriguing drone on my list. It is a high-performing, high-quality drone that is extremely durable. It is relatively difficult to fly if you’re not an experienced drone pilot and it’s also an expensive option.

5. senseFly eBee X (Best Mapping/Surveying)

  • Carrying Capacity: N/A
  • Liquid Tank Capacity: N/A
  • Area Range: 2 miles
  • Flight Time: 90-minutes

The next drone on my list is one that I consider to be the best for mapping and surveying duties. The senseFly eBee X is another fixed-wing mapping drone that is well-designed and used almost exclusively for surveying purposes.

It is one of the easiest mapping drones to use with its auto landing and launching features. It has a high-quality onboard camera that offers an 18.2 MP resolution. The drone produces excellent-quality images.

This drone also has excellent flying time. It can stay airborne for approximately 50 minutes and uses a 4900 mAh, 15.2 v lithium polymer battery.

My biggest concern here is that the camera quality is suspect, especially in dusty environments. Since this drone would be used in these conditions, capturing clear images may be challenging.

My Verdict: The senseFly eBee X is a good, lightweight, and compact drone that is easy to use for less experienced drone pilots. The high-resolution camera is noteworthy and the extended flying time is impressive. It is primarily designed for mapping and surveying duties but is a good option for general agriculture use.

6. DJI Matrice 300 RTK (Best Payload)

  • Carrying Capacity: 2.7 kg
  • Liquid Tank Capacity: N/A
  • Area Range: 9.3 miles
  • Flight Time: 55-minutes

The last drone on my list is the DJI Matrice 300 RTK. It is another nice option for agricultural use. The RTK technology comes in handy for conducting crop surveys.

Perhaps its most impressive features are its ability to carry up to three payloads and be airborne for approximately 55 minutes on a single charge. The lengthy flight time and 6-directional sensor system paired with the multi-payload carrying capacity make it a strong consideration.

It has a rugged design and sports an IP 45 rating which indicates that it can operate effectively in wet conditions, although it cannot be immersed in water. The drone also hosts several advanced artificial intelligence features.

This drone is equipped with the OcuSync Enterprise technology which allows it to transmit up to 9.3 miles away. It also supports a 3-channel high-definition video system. Another nice feature of this drone is that it can auto-switch between the 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz frequencies in real time.

However, the biggest drawback of this drone is its limited use for mapping and surveying duties.

My Verdict: The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is a powerful drone that can be used as a great tool for agricultural purposes. The lengthy flight time and 3-payload carrying capacity are notable features.

Final Thoughts

Agricultural drones are an important part of increasing production efficiency for farmers. These drones allow farmers to monitor their crops, identify problem areas, and address them before they stop production or cut into profits. 

Overall agriculture drones are a great choice to help you improve productivity. I hope this guide has helped you, and by this moment you know which drone would be best for your purposes.

Do you have experience with using drones on a farm? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to leave a comment here or to ask any questions that you have and I will respond as soon as possible.

Until next time, stay safe and enjoy flying your drone!

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