According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 21.1 million part and full-time food and agriculture jobs were available in the United States in 2021.
If this is your chosen field (or soon will be), you should consider an agriculture drone to monitor livestock and crops.
What are the best agriculture drones?
Here are the top agriculture drones to drive your business forward:
- DJI Agras MG-1
- Parrot Bluegrass
- DJI Phantom 4 RTK
- DJI Matrice 300 RTK
Choosing the right agriculture drone is tough, but we’re here to make it easier.
This guide will review each of the five drones listed above, detailing features, specs, and pricing so you can determine which one will take your business to the next level!
Dimensions: 1,471 x 1,471 x 482 mm when unfolded without propellers
Weight: 8.8 kg without batteries
Propulsion System: Motor with 60-mm by 10-mm stator, 5.1 kg of thrust per rotor, 770 watts of max power
Spray System: 10-liter liquid tank with an XR11001 nozzle (four in all)
- Includes different types of nozzles for applying pesticides, herbicides, and more
- Remembers coordinates
- Adjusts liquid application according to flight speed
- Has manual and smart flight modes
- Designed to resist agricultural wear and tear
- Not the newest DJI agriculture drone
- Still expensive despite its age
Starting the list is what’s agreed by many to still be the most efficient choice for agricultural work, the Agras MG-1.
While it’s true that it’s since been usurped by the Agras T40 (released in 2021 versus 2015 for the MG-1), the Agras MG-1 still has many qualities that will make it a valuable aid on the field.
For instance, this octocopter drone is built for variable rate application, everything from herbicides to fertilizers and liquid pesticides.
It has a very strong propulsion system, even by today’s standards. It can travel with up to 10 kilograms of liquid at a time and cover up to 6,000 square meters of land in only 10 minutes.
According to DJI, that’s up to 60x faster than doing the job manually!
However, it’s not like the MG-1 just sprays fertilizer or pesticide at a blanket rate. Oh, no. This drone has an intelligent spraying system built right in that enables it to gauge how fast it’s flying and then speed up or slow down its application accordingly.
You won’t have to worry about the drone accidentally spraying too much or too little, as it can regulate its application while still saving you time on the field.
This incredible little drone can cover between seven and 10 acres of land per hour!
DJI understands that most agricultural drones don’t last very long due to the nature of the work they do.
That’s why the manufacturer designed the MG-1 with its own centrifugal cooling system to prevent overheating and failure on a warm, sunny day. Further, the drone has a sealed, weatherproof body.
What about dust? If you’ve ever had to prematurely replace an agricultural drone before, you know how much of a problem dust can be.
Don’t worry, as DJI thought of that too. That’s why the MG-1 has a triple filter system to prevent debris and dust.
The triple filter system is also useful for heat dispersion. Hot air enters the drone and travels to the motor from the arms. The heat is lifted, captured, and diffused. This spares the motor from exposure to heat.
DJI says the triple filter can increase the motor’s lifespan thrice over.
You get not only one nozzle with your purchase of the MG-1 but four.
Whether you’re interested in comprehensive or atomized spraying, you can switch out the nozzles to whichever one best suits the job on the day’s to-do list.
The MG-1 utilizes several intelligent flight modes: Manual, Manual Plus, or Smart.
If you want to take a hands-off approach to agricultural drone work, choose Smart Mode. You can plan your drone’s route and then be off to do something else.
The manual options require more input, but Manual Plus is a good in-between, as it’s partly automated.
As it flies, this DJI drone will track coordinates, adding them to a database. The MG-1 can recall past coordinates so it can resume operations if it has to stop for any reason.
Weight: 3.7 kg
Flight Speed: 35.8 mph
Flight Time: Up to 59 mins
Wind Resistance: Up to 40 mph
Camera: Sony 42 MP
- Has a long flight time
- Very smart drone that handles its own preflight inspections
- Can launch and land in all sorts of scenarios
- Saves time and money on surveying
Wingtra is the maker of the mapping drone WingtraOne, a smart agricultural drone in a different sense.
This drone can reach speeds of 36 mph and fly for almost an hour in optimal conditions, so it can map large swathes of land relatively fast.
The drone comes equipped with a camera that shoots photos in 42 MP quality. You won’t have to contend with blurry surveying results with such a high-quality camera.
This is one of the areas where the WingtraOne is head and shoulders above other drones in its class, as they’re traditionally limited to 20 MP image quality.
In only nine hours, the WingtraOne can cover 13 miles or 22 kilometers of land. It’s not limited to farms or fields, either.
This drone will bravely enter mines, industrial complexes, or highways where it’s dangerous for people to map.
That all comes down to the fact that this drone can take off in almost any and every condition, even if the terrain isn’t level or soft. If the drone surveys a tight area, it can still launch and land.
You won’t have to stress about camera damage, either. Due to the camera’s placement, it doesn’t collide with anything, including the ground.
If you’ve used other agriculture drones before, you’re well aware of how annoying it is to continually map out ground control points.
Well, the WingtraOne will put those days squarely in the past. This drone only needs three checkpoints max, not countless GCPs.
While a preflight inspection is a good habit to get into, if you’re the forgetful type, don’t worry.
The WingtraOne can review its own internal and external components for operational functionality before it flies. If it can’t take off, it won’t!
3. Parrot Bluegrass
Dimensions: 50 x 44 x 12 cm
Weight: 1,850 g
Camera: Wide-angle camera in 14 MP quality and 1080p full HD video
Range: 1.2 mi when using the Parrot Skycontroller 2
- Can survey and produce crop data
- Has a high-quality camera capable of photography and videography
- Can fly for almost 30 minutes
- Includes a sunshine sensor as a form of heat protection
- You have to download the Pix4Dcapture app to make the most out of this drone (it is free, at least!)
When discussing the Parrot brand, it’s usually in relation to the Anafi, but the manufacturer also produces an agricultural drone known as the Bluegrass.
Declared a “multipurpose quadcopter solution for agriculture” by Parrot, the Bluegrass can survey land and map crops with its Sequoia multispectral and RGB sensors.
It can reach altitudes of 230 feet and survey up to 30 hectares per battery, it has photography and videography capabilities, and includes a year’s license for AIRINOV FIRST+, a zoning maps and NDVI service.
All that’s to say this drone is jam-packed with features to make your day-to-day working life easier.
The drone utilizes the Pix4Dcapture navigation app. You select an area of your farm (or other land) you wish for the drone to fly over, and it will do it.
Then, when the Bluegrass finishes the job, it comes back to you automatically, landing at the point it launched from.
The multispectral sensors work the entire time, recording crop data through wavelengths. That data goes straight to the AIRINOV FIRST+ cloud.
AIRINOV can also produce crop health reports based on the NDVI map data fed to it.
The RBG camera can take photos in 14 MP quality and videos in HD 1080p.
The drone also includes a sunshine sensor to prevent it from overheating. The props, which are attached to the drone’s carbon fiber arms, are removable.
Switch between manual and autonomous flight modes depending on how you need to use the Bluegrass on any particular day.
With the Pix4Dcapture app, you can adjust settings like the flight altitude, overlap, drone speed, map resolution, surface size modification, and more.
4. DJI Phantom 4 RTK
DJI Phantom 4 Professional+
Remote controller with built-in screen the Phantom 4 Pro controller integrates an upgraded Lightbridge HD video transmission system that adds 5.8 GHz transmission Support.
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05/20/2023 07:12 pm GMT
Weight: 1,391 g
Flight Time: 30 mins
Max Speed: 36 mph
Camera: 1-inch CMOS
- Collects accurate land data and sends it to the DJI cloud
- Has a high-quality camera that calibrates the lens to ensure less work in post
- The included Remote Controller has a 5.5-inch, high-quality display screen
- The Remote Controller, while helpful, is large and bulky
If it’s taking you too long to do manual mapping, let the DJI Phantom 4 RTK step in and help out.
Equipped with an RTK module, the Phantom 4 RTK can generate positional data down to the centimeter. The accuracy rate of the data you collect will drive confidence in this drone’s future usage.
After collecting that data, the drone sends it to the Cloud PPK for Post Processed Kinematics. You don’t even have to cull the satellite observation data yourself, which will save you even more time on the field.
Alternatively, you can link up the drone with the Network Transport of RTCM or the D-RTK 2 High Precision GNSS Mobile Station. It’s your call!
However, you will need a Wi-Fi hotspot or a dongle for the former.
You’re aware that DJI produces excellent cameras in its recreational and commercial drones. It’s no different for the Phantom 4 RTK, which includes a one-inch CMOS sensor that captures images in 20 MP.
The resolution is impressive, and this drone can even shoot photos on the go thanks to a mechanical shutter to avoid blur.
The drone calibrates the lens every time you shoot an image and saves settings in metadata. When you load up your images in post, you’ll have all the information you need right there in front of you.
TimeSync keeps the RTK module, camera, and flight controller aligned to further improve accuracy, including image metadata.
For example, if the positioning data isn’t right in the lens’s optical center, TimeSync will reset it. That’s just another way of many that the Phantom 4 RTK saves you valuable time.
The Remote Controller included with your drone has a screen for running the DJI GSS RTK app.
You can set drone flight parameters through the app, from Block Segmentation to Terrain Awareness, Waypoint Flights, and Photogrammetry in 2D or 3D.
The display screen is 5.5 inches and has HD quality.
Transmit your captures seamlessly using DJI’s trusted OcuSync transmission system, which can send images in HD quality across 7 kilometers.
5. DJI Matrice 300 RTK
Dimensions: 810 x 670 x 430 mm unfolded and with propellers
Weight: 930 g
Max Speed: 23 m/s in Sport Mode
Max Flight Time: 55 mins
Waterproof Rating: IP45
Camera: FPV camera
- Excellent at obstacle avoidance with six sensors
- Has an advanced version of OcuSync called OcuSync Enterprise
- Can fly for 55 minutes
- Waterproof drone
- It’s expensive (although not the costliest on the list!)
A hardy commercial drone that deserves a spot on this list, the DJI Matrice 300 RTK has more of the features you’re looking for when you want to get work done.
The Matrice 300 RTK includes one of the best versions of OcuSync you’ll see in a DJI drone, OcuSync Enterprise.
Now you can transmit footage at a distance of 15 kilometers, and this version of OcuSync will retain triple-channel video up to 1080p.
As other versions of OcuSync offer, the Enterprise edition will go from one frequency to another to find the one with the least amount of interference.
You can also transmit your data with more assurance thanks to the included encryption.
Wind doesn’t stop this bad boy, as it’s designed for wind resistance of up to 15 meters per second. That enables the Matrice 300 RTK to fly unfettered for almost an hour.
You’ll find it easy to maximize your workflow with this drone by your side.
While it includes one downward gimbal, you can reconfigure the drone to handle two downward gimbals and one upward gimbal or just one upward gimbal.
Once you’ve got it set up and the drone launched, use the included remote to record the drone as it flies.
This will teach the Matrice 300 RTK to automate its operations, everything from how much it zooms to land photography to the orientation of the gimbal.
Flying is also easier with way more than 60,000 waypoints to choose from!
Included Primary Flight Display determines the presence of obstacles so the Matrice 300 RTK can fly safely. Further, the drone has six sensors across its body to detect dangers at 40 meters ahead.
Waterproof (with a rating of IP45) and capable of withstanding temperatures down into the negatives, this drone also boasts a self-heating battery so that even in frosty conditions, it still keeps going.
You can rely on the Matrice 300 RTK for any kind of fieldwork.
What to consider when buying an agricultural drone
We just recommended a handful of fantastic agricultural drones, but the problem becomes, how to choose just one? This buyer’s guide will point you in the right direction!
Here are some important considerations to mull over as you narrow down your selection.
As our reviews showed, the variety of features an agricultural drone has can run the gamut.
Many are designed for surveying with top-of-the-line cameras that sync to cloud systems and transfer data. Others can fertilize your crops so you don’t have to.
Only you can decide which features sound the most appealing to you, but whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find no shortage of options.
This is a major consideration. If your drone’s battery doesn’t last very long, it won’t be able to survey or cover the entire scope of your field.
Your drone should have a battery life of at least 30 minutes, but double that is more ideal.
Then there’s the matter of price, which might be the most important consideration. Agriculture drones start at about $5,000, but most cost at least twice that, and some thrice it.
These are specialized drones, so they’re not going to have a cheap price point.
When you consider that most of the agriculture drones on the market come from DJI, that can further explain the priciness.
So there you have it, a collection of hard-working agriculture drones that can enable you to take a more hands-off approach to how you run some aspects of your agricultural business.
Although they’re a steep upfront investment, these drones pay back dividends later in time and cost savings!
1. USDA (link)