Should You Buy A Drone?

Drones have provided farm imagery and technology for several years now. Some of your neighbors are using them. Should you?

Cheryl Wachenheim is a professor of agribusiness and applied economics at North Dakota State University. She says the first thing you need to know is, what are you going to do with it and how will you use the information? From there, make sure your cellular service can handle it.

"If you’re using it directly on the farm and you intend to use it for decision making that is real-time, in other words, if you’re going to pull the data down while you’re flying the drone over say your crop acres, cellular service, the bandwidth that you have, the capability to download the data which is general imagery, which is a quite heavy user of bandwidth, is important," she says.

If you crash it or something goes wrong with the drone, is there a technician close by who can service the drone or will you have to send it somewhere?

Another key consideration is the value it would provide your operation versus the costs, and more importantly, your time.

"Under the current line-of-sight rules, if a drone is flying whether you’re sitting in a lawn chair out in the field or you’re sitting in your cab, you need to be able to see the drone," says Wachenheim. "Which means real man hours, as the drone is flying, you’re watching the drone."

Also know how easy it would be to use and if it would be compatible with your existing systems. Wachenheim suggests working through the value-contribution economics for your operation, and visit with others who have already employed drone technology.

Find more questions to ask yourself before buying a drone