Report: Drone ROI Averages $15 Per Acre

March 30, 2017 12:42 PM
Report: Drone ROI Averages $15 Per Acre

Many farmers know approximately what a drone might cost. Fewer know what return on that agtech investment might bring – but a new report brings fresh ROI insights.

DroneDeploy, a cloud-based software platform for commercial drone use, has now been used on 10 million acres, and the company celebrated this milestone by analyzing drone uses, frequency of flights and that all-important ROI. CEO Mike Winn says on average, users are capturing around $15 per acre on their farm.

“A lot of people are using this technology and putting it to work,” he says.

According to DroneDeploy’s analysis, 60% of their users are creating drone maps at least once a week. That’s up from 40% a year ago, Winn says – and he expects the trend to continue.

“People are using them more and more,” he says. “Some customers have ambitions to use it daily.”

That includes 20% of users flying with two or more drones, up 12% from last year, Winn says.

Another insight gleaned from the report: multi-rotor drones are being adopted much faster that their fixed-wing counterparts. A total of 97% of drone mapping is done by multi-rotor drones, according to the DroneDeploy report. Winn says there are clear advantages and disadvantages for each style of drone, but multi-rotor models tend to be less expensive, easier to use and easier to land safely.

Because drones are relatively inexpensive – several packages come in at well under $1,000 – Winn says the popularity of individual models surge and shrink quickly. For example, a year ago, the DJI Phantom 3 Pro was the most popular model, accounting for nearly half of the mapping done by Drone Deploy users. Today, only about 15% of the mapping done is from the Phantom 3 Pro. The current market leader is the DJI Phantom Pro, but its usage has already peaked, beginning to be replaced by the Phantom 4 Pro and Mavic models, according to the report.

Now that the FAA Part 107 ruling is in place, it provides the regulatory framework for many more commercial drone operators to enter the agricultural sector, Winn says. Getting started has never been easier, he says.

“If you want to fly commercially, you have to take a test; it’s not unlike getting your driver’s license,” he says.

For more information, visit

Back to news



Spell Check

Milbank, SD
3/31/2017 08:37 AM

  Will technology work 30 miles from my house to check my pasture and cattle. Do a number count. I was wondering if satellite people like Farmlogs will count cattle along with weather data?

Kansas City, MO
3/31/2017 07:29 AM

  The article mentions drone users are capturing around $15 per acre on their farm, yet, does not list how users are realizing the $15/acre ROI. I was curious how this was calculated. Thanks!

Klazienaveen, UT
4/10/2017 02:24 AM

  It iss perfect timne tto mawke solme plans for tthe futur and it’s ttime to bbe happy. I’ve read thiis postt and iif I couod I dessire too suggest yoou feew interestung thibgs or suggestions. Perdhaps yyou cann write nesxt articles refrerring tto thiss article. I wish to reead mre things abhout it! I aam sure this poset hhas touched alll thhe internet viewers, its eally really fasstidious paragraqph oon bilding uup neww blog. I sumply couldn't leave youir site prior tto suggwsting that I actually oved thee usual info aan individuawl supoply ffor ypur guests? Is goiing tto bbe back offen too inspect neww posgs


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer