10 High-tech Tools on the Typical Farm

Drones, like this one filming a vineyard, alert growers to problems not visible from ground level, like fungal infestations. Sami Sarkis/Getty Images

Talk about drones, and a lot of folks will probably assume that you're referring to the ones used to gather intelligence and drop bombs on suspected terrorists in far-flung countries. For farmers, however, the machines have the capacity to serve as an important eye in the sky. Cameras strapped to drones allow growers to closely monitor their crops, root out pests and ensure that their water is being used efficiently. All that at a price tag of less than $1,000 a pop [source: Anderson].

Drones used in the agricultural context are usually small flying helicopters or quadcopters that can be autopiloted via GPS and are equipped with a point and shoot camera. Software, rather than a human operator, does the auto piloting, controls the camera and stores and sorts photos to give farm owners a detailed depiction of the state of their vegetation and alert them to patterns not visible from the ground [source: Anderson].