Are Drones Making A Difference In Agriculture?

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The Abilene Reporter News published a story discussing how drones are being used more in agriculture research across the state.

In the Panhandle, the Texas A&M AgriLife Research dryland wheat variety nursery near Bushland is being monitored weekly by drone flights, offering wheat breeders a chance to see changes on a more real-time basis.

At College Station, Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan, AgriLife weed scientist, is using drones to “read the weeds” at a research plot at Texas A&M.

“Our goal is to use advanced sensor technology to detect weeds from above the ground and implement precision weed management,” Bagavathiannan said.

The current practice is to have field scouts walk the large fields to look for weed issues, he explained. This is a tedious, time-consuming task that can be inaccurate, and bad weather conditions can prevent timely assessments of weed problems.

Read More: New Drone Roof Inspection Capabilities

“But the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology would provide the ability to fly over large fields and collect reliable information in a short time period that can be directly relayed into actionable information,” Bagavathiannan said. “We need this technology to make that identification sooner than the naked eye can.”

Researchers are creating algorithms and indices that can one day be used by crop consultants to help producers identify weeds earlier, achieve greater control and use less chemical overall, thus be more economical and environmentally friendly.

“Putting this information into the hands of a consultant will be more cost-effective, as they can fly multiple fields in a short time,” Bagavathiannan said.

At the Panhandle dryland wheat variety nursery, Dr. Jackie Rudd, AgriLife Research wheat breeder in Amarillo, said there are 5,000 plots to evaluate one at a time. Continue reading about drone and ag research.


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