By Chris Adams

There’s a digital ag revolution coming – and some of it is coming from the sky.

In a session with National Press Foundation fellows, DuPont Pioneer researcher John Arbuckle described how drones can be used to help farmers better monitor their crops. But the drone itself isn’t enough – it needs to be combined with data analytics to help monitor their fields in real-time.

Showing the journalists the range of drones used for testing and research, Arbuckle said that farmers today already use some of them. But, for the most part, they use them to take images that are then reviewed with the naked eye – helpful, but not precise.

“A lot of farmers will use them to just take pictures,” he said. “We want to help them jump to the next stage.”

Imaging and analytics platforms can help assess plot quality, canopy health, plant height, moisture, soil characteristics and other clues as to the progress of their fields, which can stretch for thousands of acres. What a farmer traditionally has done walking the rows could eventually be done remotely and with a high level of sophistication.