Drones in agriculture are emerging and proving to be a powerful tool; providing analytics to growers all over the world. They aid growers by mapping crops/ fields, providing crucial data pertaining to crops and soil, in order to assist in crop management. The UAVs used in crop monitoring can radically enhance yields while reducing the cost of airplane fly-over filming.
No longer do you have to rely on costly, time-intensive methods of collecting aerial crop data such as satellite imagery or manned aircraft . Drones enable you to assess plant health and spot crop variability in a much more efficient time frame. This puts you in the driver’s seat and allows you to lower costs and maximize crop yields along the way.
Using drone mapping for crop scouting, you can measure plant health, identify crop stress, and rapidly eliminate threats to your field.
Plant health algorithms help highlight variability and make it easier to spot crop stress.
Detect Parasites and Fungi
Drone mapping provides ability to pinpoint plant health issues such as parasites and fungi. The example image map identifies rust fungus in this wheat crop. Clear sections of red coloration on the map enable to quickly and easily identify the extent of the unhealthy crops.
COMPILE PLANT COUNTS
One of the most exciting uses for drone mapping in agriculture is the ability to conduct complete, accurate plant counts. Instead of relying on time-consuming manual counts taken on just a small portion of a field, growers are using drones to compile automated plant counts of entire fields with significant efficiency.
Plant counting saves the trouble of having to go out and count the whole field.
ASSESS IRRIGATION SYSTEMS & DRAINAGE TILES
Before the ground freezes, chances are you’ll spend time repairing drainage tiles and optimizing irrigation systems. Why not make your work more efficient, and more effective, by obtaining a map of drainage. A bare earth map is a great way to catch drainage and irrigation issues early, before they turn into bigger problems next growing season.
In the RGB imagery to the right, the red areas are the most dry and the green areas are still relatively wet, signifying that they might not be draining as fast as the rest of the field.
Prepare for the Coming Months with a Seasonal Flight Plan
Just as the off season is the time to take stock of equipment, maintenance, and staffing needs, it’s also the the time to consult with a licensed drone service provider and create a seasonal flight plan. Flying at regular intervals creates a consistent record of what a crop yield looks like over time and gives you more information to work with when it comes time to make those big, mid-season decisions. If you go into the busiest months with a pre- established calendar, you’ll be more likely to stay consistent even when things get busy.
So exactly how often should you have your fields drone mapped? This varies depending on your situation, but in general, consider the value of a particular crop and the distance of the field from your headquarters. Strive for flying the most convenient and high-value crops each week, and the less convenient crops biweekly.
However you choose to use your drone this fall and winter, one thing is certain: you’ll return next season a little more prepared, and ready to dive in when it really counts.
Take Historical Crop Data
You’ll also want to analyze historical crop data. This, combined with plant health data and ground-truthing, will allow you to see the full picture of what is happening in the field. Comparing data from the previous growing seasons including soil type and health, irrigation on methods, and history of pests or disease will help you make smarter crop management decisions.