Drones are increasingly important on farms. They are an exciting bit of new technology – and there were reports of bumper sales at Christmas.
Many people are excited by the potential opportunities they bring, which could help keep British farmers at the forefront of the technological revolution.
But forget such advantages as helping you spot weeds or disease patches in crops, here are the things farmers would really love to use a drone for.
1. Neighbours’ yields
Bored of the boasting? Sick and tired of hearing “pub yields”? Fly over their land and see what their wheat actually looks like at harvest. 10t/ha? Pah – 7.5t, more like!
2. Escaped animals
The fence is down and your cattle are missing. Cue phone calls, walking and a frantic drive round the village. Forget that: now you just take to the air and locate those escapees.
3. Student graft
Here is the perfect means of checking whether your lambing assistant or harvest help is doing what they’re supposed to – or squirreled away in a shed or stationary tractor cab somewhere texting their friends, foraging through Facebook or swiping right on Tinder.
4. Errant teenagers
Kids still out way past the time you told them they had to get back by? Are they not replying to your calls or texts either? There’s no escape (or excuses) for the little blighters now as you scan the local hostelries from above.
5. Kit prices
Look into your local dealer’s yard and find out what it paid for the tractor it is trying to sell you for £40k. Now that would give you a negotiating edge.
6. Birth duties
Who wants to don boots and boilersuit and brave the cold and dark at some antisocial hour? Let your drone check if any sheep or cows need assistance, leaving you to make the most of your beauty sleep.
7. Kiwi rating
We’re always hearing about how flippin’ wonderful New Zealand farmers are. Fly to NZ and see for yourself if the place lives up to the hype.
8. Death toll
Every shepherd knows you have to count your sheep regularly to see how many have gone belly-up. Now you can do it without the legwork. You’ll need to learn to fly along ditches, of course, as they’re a popular spot for sheep to end it all.
9. Local gossip
Who wouldn’t want a bird’s-eye view of assignations, infidelities and surreptitious behaviour of any sort? After all, gossip is a valuable currency in most villages. Yes, yes, we know you don’t indulge in such practices yourself, but it never hurts to know what’s what.
10. Domestic chores
Slipped tile? Dodgy chimney? You need never wobble, perilously, up that ladder again…
11. Grub’s up
Who wants to get home early and waste valuable work time waiting? Now, with all the precision of a time-and-motion master, you can walk into the kitchen at the very moment lunch or dinner is served.
12. Scare off feed reps
At the first sight of them loitering, you can chase them away with your drone, like an angry hornet.
13. Beat the burglars
Had something pinched? Bet you would like to have a few choice words with the perpetrators. Now you can hunt them mercilessly as they scuttle away with their ill-gotten gains.
14. Plough through paperwork
When we have mastered all the above, let’s train these mechanical marvels to do the VAT. Actually, maybe this one’s a bit too far-fetched…