Application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in agriculture has reasonable prospects, however, introduction of drones in the field and their market promotion is facing some difficulties. For example, using UAVs for spraying the crops is more or less clear for both the supplier and consumer, and all difficulties are placed in the price issue. Whereas applying drones for remote monitoring is a much more complicated situation.
It is worth mentioning that most problems are common for all methods of remote monitoring, regardless of the information source. These can be divided into:
০ problems that the consumers are facing (agricultural producers, insurance companies and state regulatory institutions)
০ difficulties that the suppliers are facing.
To better understand these issues and look for solutions we can divide them by sources. Namely they are technical, methodical, psychological, legislative, organizational and economical.
So, in part the issues that arise with drone application are objective, related to technical aspects of using UAVs and interpreting survey results, legislation and economic specifics; and in part subjective, related to difficulties that people face in understanding and accepting of new technologies, and implementing them. According to the problems solutions need to be picked adequately.
One of the main issues with the consumer is their unwillingness to order the services of remote monitoring. It arises because of the following factors:
❶ Failure to prove the feasibility of proposals for remote monitoring. When analyzing various proposals of companies offering remote monitoring services we can see that they do not explain the economic value of monitoring implementation, even though the price of their service is quite high for Ukrainian farmers, additionally most offers are aimed at large customers with minimal plot area of several thousand hectares;
❷ Most offers are made relying on precision agriculture that presently is not widely implemented in Ukraine because it requires significant additional investments.
Although there are plenty of service offers on the market, for an unprepared consumer it is still unclear why they would require remote monitoring, because the economic efficiency of its use in agriculture is not proven or, correctly speaking, not very well covered. The problem is aggravated by some companies not disclosing their commercial information. So, those who have a positive experience with remote monitoring do not hurry to share their economic calculations. From the other side, the state regulatory institutions at present are not interested in UAVs, because current legislation does neither regulate the work of such institutions nor application of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Unfortunately even during a quite large forum for agrarian business Agroport-2015 the remote monitoring service providers were presenting mainly to their own competitors. The Agrosmart section of the forum, where the latest argo technologies were presented, had nearly no potential service consumers. In the photo Intetics representative is speaking of ‘Drones as a service’.
The main problem of the service provider today, in my opinion, is the advantage of supply over demand. Some solutions may be:
❶ search of original approaches, free niches, analyzing real requirements of consumers and adjusting the services;
❷ ‘educating’ the consumers – the conduct of educational activities, more active advertising services, training and educational programs, etc. with bringing specific examples of the effective use of UAVs;
❸ minimizing the cost of work while simultaneously promoting the economic benefits of using drones (as well as other remote sensing methods);
❹ developing a range of offers in different price levels with a focus not only on agro holding, but also to small and medium agribusiness.
Thus, for a more active and effective use of UAVs in agriculture, as well as other remote agro monitoring services, a complex solution to the problem is required – improving the services, forming the interest of consumers, market proposals expansion, development of communication between consumers and service providers.