Ag Field inspection Newbie questions

Hi, I'm a GIS Technician at a local county government land conservation department and we are considering using a UAV to conduct agricultural field inspections and some other land inventory projects. We are looking at only gathering basic photography and video at this time using a quadcopter.


I'm trying to put together a basic benefit/cost analysis for our board and I'm trying to quantify how much area (in acres) could be covered during a basic 15-20 minute flight?


Let's assume flying at 100 foot altitude. I'm assuming that would give us adequate resolution for the typical things such as erosion/flooding that we are looking for. Anybody with direct experience using the UAV for ag inspection that could provide this type of information or other suggestions?


Thanks in advance,



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  • Hey Andy,

    We work closely with local SWCD and NRCS staff and have an idea on what you are looking for. Field inspections are going to run similar to our crop scouting (I own an agronomic consulting company). We use quadcopters so that we can sit over a field at about 300 ft to get an overall view then drop down to about 30 ft or even canopy level to get a close up. We typically cover 300+ acres per flight, but it depends on how much time we spend at a specific spot. We're not aerial mapping, but rather running live video feed to a set of goggles (which is probably what you are looking for). If you are looking to put together a cost analysis you need to start with a quadcopter that has real-world flight times of over 20 minutes, has either a 2-axis or 3-axis gimbal, live-video feed (FPV) system, a good set of goggles (screens aren't very practical in the field), and good transmitter & video range. Let me know if you have any other questions!



    • Tim, Thanks for the reply. Yes it does sound like you know what I'm after. Thanks for the goggles tip. My initial product research had me looking at a DJI Phantom Vision w/ 3 axis gimbal. Would you be willing to share your system specs with me? Where are you located? We're in Winnebago Co. WI.

      • I'm in Virginia. The systems I use are custom builds, but I have been helping Joey from FlyAmericaFPV with some Pixhawk builds in the Turbo Ace Matrix systems. These are well-built systems, and I think they would work well for you. They are more expensive than the Phantoms though (you're looking at ~$6,000 for everything you need). Paired with the Pixhawk it's a great machine for ag-purposed work.

  • Andy,

    From our tests, we've consistently been able to map 12-14 acres with 3DR's Y6 on one 6000mAh battery over 6-7 minutes with 10-15mph winds. The missions were flown at 60 meters up and have a 67% overlap since we need orthomosaics. There's a ton of variables to consider but hopefully these numbers are helpful. 


    • Joey, Thank you for the quick reply. I realize there are many variables, but your information is a very good starting point, thanks! If I were to make a "ballpark" estimate based on your figures assuming we would do a 10% overlap since we don't need orthos would a conservative estimate of 60 acres / 20 min be a reasonable?

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