Crop Scouting with Drones – A Case Study in Precision Agriculture
Founded in 2011, Event 38 builds and sells easy to use drones, sensors and a Drone Data Management System-TM . Customers all over the world use our drones for Construction, Environmental Conservation, Mining, Surveying and Precision Agriculture.
Precision agriculture, and crop scouting in particular, is about to take a big step forward with the use of drone technology. Countless crop management improvements will be developed once the FAA publishes regulations for commercial use of drones in 2015.
Through recent advancements in drone technology, the cost of collecting vast amounts of information on large areas of land has decreased to pennies per acre. New, sophisticated sensors let us gather data at the plant (leaf) level at a moment’s notice, which supports speedy decision-making and an opportunity for farmers to attain higher crop yields. By adding additional data sources, we expect to find hidden relationships and make further improvements in farm management. This combination of drones, sophisticated sensor hardware, and big data predictive and prescriptive analytics will revolutionize farm management in the near future.
Crop scouts perform a key service to farmers to ensure crop success. Typically, they are engaged to identify crop issues, (i.e., pests, soil condition, disease, plant health, weeds, etc.) and to make recommendations for treatments/interventions. Currently, they periodically sample small areas and generalize their findings to the whole field. In the near future, crop scouts will use drones to analyze the complete planting area, quickly identify issues, and provide recommendations for highly localized treatments.
Case Study Results
Today we can gain basic insights about the crop. In the future we will be able to identify and quantify specific issues, allowing the farm manager to take measured action only when financially appropriate.
In late-July, 2014, we flew our E384 fixed-wing drone over a 75-acre cornfield in central Ohio.
The E384 has an industry leading flight time of two hours, and can carry a 1 kilogram payload.
The E384 can fly a 1,000 acre farm in a single flight and capture data at the 2 centimeter level.
The flight lasted about 15 minutes, was flown at 400 feet completely autonomously, and captured 140 images at a 3cm/pixel resolution.
Below are some of the findings we observed.
1. Spotlight Areas of Interest
By viewing the whole planting area, crop scouts are able to identify particular areas of interest to follow up with an examination on the ground.
2. Determine Crop Height
Today we can sample the planting area to determine plant height. Taking periodic readings of the same area will give crop scouts an indication of plant growth over time.
3. Calculate Crop Health with NDVI
NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) is a simple analytical tool that indicates chlorophyll activity in plants but is also strongly correlated to plant biomass, leaf area index, and plant stress symptoms.
Event 38 is working with crop scouts and researchers to develop next generation tools for precision agriculture. We are actively seeking collaboration with farmers, researchers, developers, and commercial partners. Your comments and feedback are appreciated. Tell us about improvements you would like to see in the near future.”
About Event 38
Founded in 2011 and with customers all over the world, Event 38 Unmanned Systems is a leading provider of easy to use unmanned aircraft (drones), sensors and a Drone Data Management System-TM for Construction, Environmental Conservation, Mining, Precision Agriculture and Surveying.
Our drones offer longer flight times, larger payloads, higher resolution sensors and cost 5-20 times less than our competitors.
If you ever have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us anytime. We’re always happy to answer any questions!
Want to stay up to date on our latest findings? Sign up for our newsletter!