As the cannabis revolution continues, new methods and tools are being employed to help growers produce fantastic crops. One of them is the drone. Using this rapidly growing technology, cannabis farmers are able to provide better and more efficient care for their plants.
Properly caring for a cannabis crop requires constant input and evaluation of information coming from the plants. For those with small operations, these vital data can be collected without much human power. However, when the operations are large (as many commercial setups are), collecting these data can be quite challenging and costly.
One piece of information of utmost importance to any operation is the sex of the plant. Most growers are interested only in the female plant because she produces the large aromatic flowers decorated with dazzling trichomes that contain the terpenes and abundant cannabinoids everyone expects from hemp and cannabis. Workers tending a crop of new seedlings will be looking for the sex to appear. Failure to cull the males will result in pollination of the female flowers and a degraded harvest.
With a large operation over acres of farmland, this task of sex identification can be completed much more quickly with the use of a fleet, a couple, or even one drone. Also, the drone allows farmers many different perspectives of their topography and plants, and thus, more information, which leads to higher accuracy and better decision making. Drone footage taken during sexing and other periods of the growing cycle can provide powerful archival footage.
Cannabis plants are fast and tall growers. It’s quite easy to find yourself dealing with 10-20-foot budding plants. Without the right ladder (or a crane) and the ability to maneuver in and out of the plants, important developments happening at the tops of the plants can be missed, such as pest problems, nutrient deficiencies, overfeeding, and more.
With drones, cannabis farmers not only have access to numerous types of still and video cameras, but they also can utilize sensitive scanning equipment to tell them things their eyes cannot. For example, drone company Precision Hawk equips drones with sensors that can detect thermal differences important in determining soil moisture levels, proper irrigation, and plant health. Global Hemp Group is designing a drone with similar sensor capabilities made of hemp biocomposite. AgrowDrone manufactures drones capable of spraying target areas.
Not all drones aim to monitor expanses of outdoor crops. PATS Indoor Drone Solutions offers small, bat-sized drones that locate and hunt harmful insects inside greenhouses.
The applications of drone technology to cannabis cultivation are numerous. And, as the industry continues evolving, relevant drone tech applications will too.