Farm Bureau, drone service unveil ROI calculator for precision ag

By Emily Aasand | July 22, 2015

The American Farm Bureau Federation, Informa Economics and Measure, a drone as a service company, have released a study that identifies and quantifies the benefits of drone technology in precision agriculture. Version 1.0 of the Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator quantifies the economic benefits of drone as a service for three applications: field crop scouting, 3D terrain mapping and crop insurance. It initially covers corn, wheat and soybeans—three of the largest production crops—which allows growers to quickly and easily determine if drone technology would be worthwhile after getting results from farm data entered into the ROI Calculator.

The ROI Calculator will be available as a web-based application on the Measure website, with additional functionality added over time to include more drone applications and types of crops, Measure said. “There is no other tool like this available to farmers looking to drones to increase yields or save money,” the company added.

“While lots of drone hardware has been sold to farmers, until today, no tool existed to help growers actually quantify whether the benefits exceed their costs, especially when farmers want to outsource these types of services,” said Justin Oberman, president of Measure. “Working with the Farm Bureau and our partners, we have created the only ROI Calculator for drone use in precision agriculture. This tool will help growers understand how drone technology can improve their performance for the benefit of consumers in the U.S. and around the world.”

The study occurred in two phases. Phase 1, completed in February 2015, culminated in the production of a nearly 100-page report highlighting the best use cases for drones in precision agriculture. In Phase 2, Measure and Informa used data collected from desk research, interviews with industry experts and drone flights to aid in the construction of the ROI Calculator.

“This study and the ROI Calculator will help make drones a reality for farmers and ranchers,” said Julie Potts, executive vice president and treasurer of the American Farm Bureau. “Every year we must feed more people on the same fields while protecting the environment we all share. Precision agriculture and drones in particular will be an important part of executing on that mission.”


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