Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly known as drones, have a potential market in the global agriculture industry worth $32.4bn, according to estimates from consultancy firm PwC.

In a report published earlier this year, PwC estimate that the total value of drone powered solutions to global industries is worth $127.3bn with the infrastructure sector benefiting most at $45bn and agriculture coming in second at $32.4bn.

The figures are estimates of business, labour and services that have the potential for replacement by drones in the near future, based on data from 2015.

“Drones will allow farming to become a highly data-driven industry, which eventually will lead to an increase in productivity and yields,” the report states.

Compared to satellite imagery, PwC state that drones allow more flexible, cheaper and precise crop monitoring over large areas of farmed land.

“Drones can be integrated at every stage of the crop lifecycle, from soil analysis and seed planting to choosing the right moment for harvesting,” the report states.

Soil analysis presented on 3D maps can be created from information gathered by drones which allow optimum seed planting patterns to de developed. Data collected from drones is also used for management of irrigation and fertilisers over large areas of farmland.

The report also points out the recent developments with scanning crops with different types of light to spot changes to plant health early and the start of potential disease outbreaks in crops.

Drones can also be used for precise and even application of pesticides on crops. “Experts estimate that aerial spraying can be done as much as five times faster than with traditional machinery such as tractors,” the report states.

PwC conclude that an objective for the industry will be to have access to drones that are highly automated, easy to use and require minimal training for use.

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