The buzzing of drones and the fragrant aroma of cannabis might seem worlds apart. But in reality, these two industries are closely intertwined, thanks to rapid advancements in technology and a growing market for cannabis. As drones redefine various industries, from entertainment to agriculture, it’s no surprise that they’re making a significant mark in the world of cannabis cultivation as well.
Crop monitoring and health checks
Every cannabis cultivator understands the importance of maintaining a healthy crop. Unlike traditional methods, which often require manual labor and close-up examination, drones equipped with advanced sensors can fly over extensive cannabis fields, ensuring all plants are in prime health.
Multispectral cameras mounted on drones can detect early signs of plant distress, be it from diseases, pests, or nutrient deficiencies. The faster these issues are spotted, the quicker and more efficiently they can be addressed, resulting in better yields and healthier crops.
Blue Nose Aerial Imaging, a Denver-based venture steered by veterans, champions the drone franchise approach. Blue Nose’s aerial tools aid cannabis cultivators in pinpointing male plants. To maximize THC concentrations, it’s imperative to eliminate these male plants—preventing fertilization lets female plants flourish more effectively.
Moreover, Blue Nose leverages cutting-edge sensors and sophisticated data analysis to anticipate yields and detect plant diseases and pests. The company’s CEO, Tanner Harris, a former Navy E-6 Mercury aviator and Boeing flight trainer, claims that drones can achieve in just a few hours what would normally take four to five days of manual labor.
Cannabis cultivation can face setbacks due to invasive weeds and pests, just as traditional crops like wheat and corn do. Precision agriculture, with its plethora of applications, plays a pivotal role in the cannabis industry, especially when it comes to weed and pest management.
Drones equipped with advanced cameras and sensors are adept at pinpointing specific weeds and pests that can threaten cannabis crops. Coupled with GPS technology, these drones can map out vast cultivation areas with precise location details in mere seconds.
Furthermore, it’s unusual to come across cannabis fields spanning hundreds of acres, so deploying a large sprayer isn’t logical. Instead of having multiple people manually spray with backpack sprayers, it can be more efficient to use a drone programmed to handle the task. Andrew Bish, CEO of farming equipment manufacturer Bish Enterprises and founder of Hemp Harvest Works, says that large-scale sprayers can cost as much as $500,000 to $750,000, compared with just $25,000 for a drone, making the technology more accessible to smaller and midsize growers.
Irrigation and water management
Cannabis cultivation, much like other agricultural practices, requires meticulous attention to irrigation for optimum yield. In recent years,progressive cannabis farmers have turned to drones as a pivotal tool for revolutionizing their watering and irrigation management.
These drones, equipped with advanced thermal and infrared cameras, provide a bird’s eye view of the crop, allowing growers to pinpoint areas of moisture stress with exceptional accuracy. This overhead perspective aids in identifying both over-irrigated zones and parched areas that need immediate attention.
Moreover, in vast or challenging terrains, drones make it possible to spot equipment malfunctions or leaks swiftly, ensuring that not a drop of precious water is wasted. By facilitating early detection of inconsistencies in moisture levels, drones empower cannabis cultivators to adjust irrigation systems proactively. This not only ensures the health and vitality of the plants but also leads to significant water conservation—a boon in regions where water is a scarce resource.
The fusion of drones and the cannabis industry is a vivid example of how technology can propel an industry forward. As both industries continue to grow and evolve, this synergy promises even more innovative solutions and strategies. The future of cannabis cultivation and distribution, with drones at the forefront, seems not just green in color but also in potential.
Curious about how else technology is propelling the cannabis industry forward? Check out our white paper—”How Analytics is Empowering Cannabis Cultivators and Manufacturers.”
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