• IoT
  • Drones
  • Agriculture
  • Data Collection

Drones Lead IoT Adoption Across Farming and Agriculture

Hannah Davis
Aug 31, 2021


Drones have emerged as a pivotal technology for the agricultural industry and are the leading Internet of Things (IoT) solution adopted in farming and agriculture. As the industry ventures down the path toward the fourth green agricultural revolution, communications technologies and IoT devices—including sensors, GPS, drones, and big data—are being deployed to improve operations, production, and efficiency. 

Drones Streamline Farming Processes and Inspections

Due to their technical specifications, including the ability to hover, change directions, and deploy multiple sensors or payloads, drones can be used for a variety of applications in the agricultural industry. These applications include image collection and data analysis for land surveillance, crop health monitoring, pest and disease monitoring, and livestock tracking and monitoring. Payloads can be customized for applications and processes such as seed planting, irrigation, and chemical and pesticide spraying. Drones using multispectral imagery can differentiate between soil types, detect plant stress, and identify crop growth stages. Drones with thermal, infrared, or multispectral sensors can identify areas that require more or less irrigation and can analyze crop health indicators. These indicators help farmers and growers understand and predict growth and yield measurements based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Normalized Difference Vegetation Index

Drones also benefit the agriculture industry by reducing physical labor requirements and streamlining data collection. Drones can collect a granular and comprehensive dataset at a fraction of the cost of renting an airplane or helicopter while also performing tasks on a much faster timescale. For example, using drones for spraying chemicals, which typically takes several hours by hand, can cover a field in as little as 15 minutes. Using drones for data collection and analysis can drive efficiencies by helping workers and managers make day-to-day, data-driven decisions and alerting them to anomalies based on the intelligence gathered. The aerial imagery collected with drones can quickly identify defects with farms or crops that are more difficult to find using manual, ground-level inspection methods. Although drones will not completely replace the physical worker on farms and in agriculture, declining technology costs and proven use cases in the industry continue to enhance the utility of drones deployed on farms around the world.

IoT in Agriculture Is Growing

Guidehouse Insights’ IoT Solutions for Farming and Agriculture report reveals that global spending on IoT for agriculture is expected to grow from $8.5 billion in 2021 to $26.2 billion in 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4%. Drone investments for agriculture alone are anticipated to grow from $852 million in 2021 to nearly $3 billion in 2030 at a CAGR of 14.9%. The IoT solutions market for farming and agriculture is driven by various factors, including the need for more affordable and advantageous ways to produce higher yielding crops and herds. 

Total Smart Agriculture and Livestock Tracking IoT Investment by Region, World Markets: 2021-2030 

Total Smart Agriculture and Livestock Tracking IoT Investment by Region, World Markets: 2021-2030

(Source: Guidehouse Insights)

The report details these trends and more, including forecasts for IoT deployments across the smart agriculture industry with a focus on the use of drones for farming and livestock applications.

Interested in learning more about drones and their use in other industries? Check out Guidehouse Insights’ report, UAS and Drones for Critical Energy Infrastructure, which studies the drone market across utility, oil & gas, and mining industries.