Environmental Monitoring With Drones

Environmental Monitoring

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles/UAVs, have been gradually making their way into more and more industries as their true potential is explored.

Drones prove a unique, real-time view of an area, something that was once unachievable, and this is now being used to great effect in farming, agriculture, and environmental research.

With these tools, environmentalists and farmers can track the growth of a crop, the movements of a herd and important environmental concerns, all from a safe, convenient spot.

The use of drones in environmental monitoring starts in agriculture

Drones have been used by farmers for a while now, as they are increasingly seen as the ideal tool for monitoring large areas of land.

The best way to gain a better insight into the health and success of farming field is from the air, and these unmanned crafts are an easy way to get clearer images.

This means that crops and pests can be better managed and farmers can essentially see the bigger picture over their many acres.

This can potentially save farmers a lot of time and effort, but perhaps some money too.

The potential for drones as an environmental tool in agriculture can be seen via two very different projects.

In the UK, a government-funded team called Ursula Agriculture are working with agrichemical companies to use drones to analyze the plants growing in a field and employ a more targeted, environmentally-friendly method of controlling weeds.

In Indonesia, Cargill is using drones on a wider scale to look at the potential damage they may be causing. These aerial images also allow them to detect illegal forest clearing from a safe distance.

Drones can also help with wildlife conservation

The ability to monitor species without human interaction and too much disturbance is always a priority with major conservation teams and drones can help trackers achieve this in a whole new, beneficial way.

By sending a drone into a territory and recording information, groups can gain access to a herd or pack from miles away and see real-time images that could provide vital information.

These UAVs can also carry out missions in areas where humans are unable to tread, such as far out in dangerous oceans on in Antarctica.

Power supply is an issue, but with the advent of cheap portable solar generators, this issue is now resolved: drones can be recharged forever, without the need for fuel resupply or power lines.

Two important missions have already been carried out that show the potential for the use of drones in environmental monitoring.

On one side of the coin, we have the dangerous mission of tracking Japanese whale hunters, where environmentalists can now use drones to monitor activity from a safe distance.

On the other side, we have the RSPB‘s use of drones for thermal wildlife imaging and radio tracking. These UAVs can follow endangered, reintroduced birds without the risk of human contact.

There is a real future for drones in environmental research

Drones have become more widespread in different industries as the potential uses increase, and there is little doubt that they will prove to be invaluable in environmental research for a long time to come.

These UAVs will become more accessible and affordable, but also more capable and advantageous as manoeuvrability, image quality, and other technological aspects advance.

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