Without the proper image interpretation, drones in agriculture are not all they’re cracked up to be, agronomists say.

This year’s Crop Production Show feature event focused on drones in agriculture. An agronomist, professor and drone expert spoke about where the technology is headed.

According to University of Saskatchewan agronomy professor Steve Shirtliffe, the average Canadian farmer merely uses drones to take wide-angled images of their farm.

“With drones, we’re all like, ‘Hey, look, it can do all these things!’ People ask, ‘Well, what can it do?’ and then people get a bit quiet. ‘Well, it can take a picture of your farm yard,’” Shirtliffe joked.

“Being able to interpret that imagery is the key thing.”

Shirtliffe says to get to the stage where farmers can use data from drone images to help their bottom line, they’ll need to buy additional software.

Agronomist Greg Adelman says interpreting drone images can’t be completely digital.

“You’re always going to need an agronomist in the field. A bird’s eye view still doesn’t tell you what’s happening in the field. You have to be in there, touching and seeing what’s there,” the owner of Crop Command Agronomy said.

Adelman recommends farmers spend no more than $3,000 on a drone for their farm.