In the next few years, you may be able to have your Amazon package delivered right to your door—not by the mailman, but by a drone or UAV. Do you have a drone on your operation to use or play with? Did your kids get one for Christmas and promptly crash it into the Christmas tree? Drones/UAVs have certainly created a buzz the past few years. I have used one myself and know they are able to capture some amazing pictures.
The Farmers Coop Society Precision Ag department is collaborating with Taranis, an Israeli company, for seasonal scouting of crop protection and plant health using UAV and AI (artificial intelligence). Taranis is using the combination of high speed/low altitude flight and incredibly high-resolution pictures to help agronomists scout a field quickly and accurately.
Scouting is an important job during the growing season. We need to evaluate plant stands, search for weed escapes, determine weed pressure that emerges late in the season, and evaluate the severity of any bacterial or fungal diseases in the crop. Crop scouting also helps agronomists evaluate crop nutrition plans and estimate your yield potentials.
UAV and AI Technology
Is it possible to have UAVs compliment the ground-truthing of your agronomist in the next few years? We believe so, and currently, Taranis is developing a process that uses the highly detailed pictures it takes while scouting, uploading them into a database that finds crop health issues. These images can also be used to generate a highly accurate field map that reports field plant stands. In turn, this report can be used to evaluate the need to replant or show how well a variable rate planting recommendation was executed.
We also plan to use this technology in evaluating late season health in standing corn. Tall corn is tough to maneuver through, and using the UAV and AI tools we hope to find anything out there that might be in the mid- to top-canopy of the crop. This will help with the decision of applying a fungicide or insecticide to maintain late season sustainability and yield potential.
Stay tuned! We hope to show you our results and how we were able to use this technology this year.
Written by: Kevin Rozenboom