Paper Example on Agricultural Drones

7 pages
1684 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Research proposal
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The objective of this proposal is to inform the company about the benefits of using agricultural drones, the total budget, the capabilities of the drones, and the required equipment. The proposal also includes a projection of the expected outcome and strategy for evaluating the results. In addition, the advantages of using agricultural drones are discussed, as well as their feasibility.

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Essentially, investing in agricultural drones is the way forward for a growing company, such as Manayer Farms. The project will, therefore, be profitable to the enterprise. I look forward to a positive response from you.

GlossaryRemote Sensing: Scanning the earth using a drone or satellite to obtain information.

Return on investment (ROI): The ratio of the net profit to the cost of investments, which is then multiplied by one hundred.

Algorithm: A set of instructions used in calculations and operations by computers and software.

SaaS (Software as a Service): A cloud computing model, whereby a third-party hosts applications that clients can access.

Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). A digital indicator that uses visible and near-infrared light to analyze the health of plants based on the difference in the light that they reflect.


Herein is a proposal regarding the use of agricultural drones in farming and how Manayer Farms can benefit from the technology. The research covers how the drones are operated, their capabilities, and the equipment required. Additionally, the expected results are projected using available data and literature from studies and financial information. The plan that will be used to evaluate the results is straightforward, and it will involve comparing gathered information in a span of two years. Moreover, the drones are quite easy to operate as they are created to be user-friendly. The budget for the initial investment is expected to be relatively high, but the ROI projected will increase the profit margin of the company. Overall, the use of agricultural drones is justifiable due to their several benefits, such as reduced production cost and high-quality yields.

Agricultural Drones


The employment of remote sensing technology in agriculture has revolutionized agricultural practices with the aim of reducing operation costs and increasing the profit margin. In particular, the use of drones in farming is increasingly becoming popular due to the high ROI, reduced effort, and high efficiency (Li, 2010). Agricultural drones are also known as UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), which is usually used interchangeably with the term "drones," and they have proven to be affordable and beneficial to farming. Some of the benefits of using UAVs in agriculture are increased yields, cost-effective, time-effective, monitoring crop progress, smart irrigation, and water efficiency. Water conservation is vital mainly because the climate of Riyadh is classified as a hot desert. Drones are reliable since they execute control algorithms, which are precise and help in data processing and management (Li & Chen, 2013). For that reason, this report is aimed at evaluating and assessing the viability of integrating agricultural drones into the farming activities of Manayer Farms and how it can reduce cost and increase productivity.


Agricultural drones are remotely controlled and can be programmed to execute actions automatically. They can be programmed to collect accurate data that can help both the engineers and farmers at Manayer to monitor operations and crop health without being present at the field. In addition, the data collected uses the software as a service (SaaS), whereby data is collected and uploaded to the cloud for rapid processing and users receive immediate feedback (Zhang & Pierce, 2013). For that reason, the primary function of the engineers and farmers is to act on the information provided from the analysis. Additionally, the personnel will require training for operating and programming the agricultural drones. Furthermore, drones are nowadays user-friendly and less time and capital are needed for training; indeed, it is relatively affordable.


The best part of using agricultural drones is that they contain a fail-safe, which enables the drone to return to the initial point of take-off (Cai, Chen & Lee, 2011). Therefore, minimal time is required to monitor the operations of the UAVs and the farms since the entire process can be automated. In addition, drones can be programmed for crop surveillance at any interval, it could be after every hour, two hours, twelve hours, one day, or even a week depending on the farming needs. With the fail-safe option and the automation capability, they significantly reduce the time used for crop and animal surveillance in farms (Zhang & Kovacs, 2012). However, both the engineers and the farmers should be trained for two to four weeks, and after the drones have been commissioned, the staff will need a training program that updates their knowledge and skills concerning operation and programming of agricultural drones.


Drones have a broad range of capabilities that are beneficial to farming. For instance, they can be used for soil and field analysis, planting, crop spraying, crop monitoring, irrigation, and health assessment (McBratney, Whelan, Ancev & Bouma, 2005). The UAVs save time, reduce workload, increases efficiency with its precision technology, and they are easy to operate. The drones are used for crop health imaging, whereby the sensors collect information based on the light reflected by plants (Gao & Shaw, 2004). Figure 1 is an example of how RGB color differs from NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), which reveals variations in color depending on the crop health. Moreover, the NDVI images enable engineers and farmers to identify dead, stressed, and healthy leaves that have different colorations as illustrated in figure 2. In this regard, agricultural drones have increased the efficiency of data analytics in farming. Moreover, farmers can use the NDVI images to identify areas that do not have sufficient supply of water, which could also help in revealing clogged nozzles (Dagar et al., 2016). In fact, the drones can also be programmed to monitor a particular area by fencing, which will act like a borderline.

Materials and Equipment

Agricultural drones do not have many requirements for them to be operational. Besides purchasing them, the company will need to obtain a license to be able to fly them, especially in Saudi Arabia where flying drones require special authorization. Drones can fly around 50 to 100 meters high, but special permission is required to fly above 50 meters (Austin, 2011). In addition, SaaS for processing data and a flight controller. Also, the farms should be fenced to draw a map that will guide the UAVs to avoid crossing restricted territories.

Expected Results

On average, resorting to visual inspections and aerial survey to take images of crop fields cost about $2. However, the return on investment (ROI) on the purchase of agricultural drones can be met quickly, and the ROI can be achieved in one crop season. Thus, by leaving out the company owning the UAVs, the farm is likely to reduce the cost of operation and also improve crop yield (Zhang, 2015). Furthermore, the firm can save more capital and reduce food wastage, which is a global problem, whereby a third of the food produced is wasted. The company is set to increase its profit margin when the UAVs reduce the cost of production and operation; it will be spending less and gaining more with a much lesser effort. As a matter of fact, the ROI is approximated to increase by ten percent in the first two seasons after implementing smart farming using agricultural drones.

Plan for Evaluating Results

Since agricultural drones can monitor the progress of crops in the farm, the engineers and farmers at Manayer Farms will have sufficient and reliable information to make effective decisions. The data collected will be compared in a span of two years to ascertain the reliability of agricultural drones for smart farming, which is the future of agriculture. Moreover, the financials will reveal that the technology is a sound investment.


The agricultural drones have a GPS functionality and can automatically return to the point where they took off (Stafford & Werner, 2003); therefore, they are easy to control. In addition, the UAVs have the advantage of big data analytics, a characteristic that traditional farming does not possess. Several studies have further proven that big data analytics increases the overall sales in the agriculture industry and also improve the quality of yields. The data collected is automatically analyzed and processed, and the resulting information is relayed to the user who is not required to have analytical or professional skills to operate the UAVs.


The initial investment to integrate agricultural drones into farming are always significant, but the ROI projected justifies the investment. Moreover, agricultural drones are advanced tools that gather complex data. The purchasing price for a complete drone system ranges from $1,700 to over $30, 000. After comparing prices and capabilities, the company will spend $14,000 on one drone. A total of two drones, which is the number required, will cost $28, 000. The company will spend an additional $400 on training its farmers and engineers. Other expenses such as obtaining a license and buying accessories will amount to approximately $2,800. The total cost of the project is $31, 200.


Drones can reveal patterns that can help identify irrigation problems, soil variation, pest and fungal infestations, and progress of crop health, all these variables are not apparent at an eye level (Gao & Shaw, 2004). The survey can be programmed to create a time series that shows changes in the crops, even the slightest ones that are typically overseen. Smart farming is healthy for ROI and crop yield.


Agricultural drones are embraced in the western world since their efficiency and a high ROI are satisfactory. They are also easy to operate considering that the data collected is automatically analyzed, and big data analytics has proven fruitful in farming. In addition, setting up the UAVs and obtaining a license are affordable, and they also have a broad range of capabilities that increases efficiency in agriculture. Technology has been gaining recognition in the agricultural sector in the last four years, and that trend is expected to progress steadily in the next decade (Sonka & Cheng, 2015). Overall, agricultural drones can reduce the operating costs and improve the quality of crop yield, as well as save time. For that reason, agricultural drones are a sound investment for a company...

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