U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



Int J Agric & Biol Eng, 2013; 6(3): 1-10


Open access

DOI: 10.3965/j.ijabe.20130603.001


Unmanned aerial vehicles have been developed and applied to support agricultural production management. Compared with piloted aircraft, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can focus on small crop fields at lower flight altitudes than regular aircraft to perform site-specific farm management with higher precision. They can also “fill in the gap” in locations where fixed winged or rotary winged aircraft are not readily available. In agriculture, UAVs have primarily been developed and used for remote sensing and application of crop production and protection materials. Application of fertilizers and chemicals is frequently needed at specific times and locations for site-specific management. Routine monitoring of crop plant health is often required at very high resolution for accurate site-specific management as well. This paper presents an overview of research involving the development of UAV technology for agricultural production management. Technologies, systems and methods are examined and studied. The limitations of current UAVs for agricultural production management are discussed, as well as future needs and suggestions for development and application of the UAV technologies in agricultural production management.