How to learn mapping and agriculture for drones
How to learn mapping and agriculture for drones

I’m interested in breaking into agriculture and mapping. I think what I need the most is some training so that I know what I’m talking about when looking for clientele. Do you have any suggestions?

Yes, I know exactly what you need. I highly recommend Icarus Aerials’ Lewis Butler and Trevor Duke’s online course on mapping and 3D modelling.

The course goes over a variety of topics – photogrammetry, structure scanning, hardware, software and more. It primarily discusses using Drone Deploy, though I personally have had success with Skycatch’s software, which is similar to Drone Deploy.

It’s a self-paced online course so you can do it on your own time – and there’s lifetime access in case you need a lot of time. The course, called Mapping and 3D Modeling 101 costs $199.

If you want to just poke around before committing to a course, both Drone Deploy and Skycatch offer free versions of their software to try. (Though more advanced upgrades like NDVI layers will require payment.) Practice by mapping your own house!

Pix4D is also a source of advanced photogrammetry software, and 3D Robotics recently pivoted from making consumer drones to becoming a drone data platform with its new Site Scan offering.

According to a 2016 Goldman Sachs report, the global total addressable market for drones in precision agriculture is $5.9 billion. Goldman also predicted that most of those drones flying over a farm would not be farm-level ownership, but be operated by a drones-as-a-service type company.

It’s really valuable that you are looking to expand your skills beyond just drone piloting. For us drone nerds, flying the drones alone is cool. But for environmental nerds, agriculture nerds or anyone else looking to use a drone for their business, they don’t care about your drone – they just want the data. Drones are just another tool to cheaply, quickly and efficiently gather data. But if you are a master at flying drones but don’t know how to get the data your clients need, you probably won’t land the job.

Happy mapping, and happy flying!

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About the Author: Nana Gastaldi