Field Scale Crop Assessment with Drones
When assessing your crop across an entire field, a familiar expression may come to mind: You don’t know what you can’t see. Another familiar saying may follow, “Time is money, and every day is a bank account.”
The big question that producers ask themselves these days is, “will having a small, unmanned aircraft (drone) add value to my operation?”
Honest answer? It may, but I don’t know a specific dollar amount. Can it save you time in walking your fields? Absolutely. Can it show you the location of problems in your fields you would otherwise not see walking? Again, yes.
Let’s look at a growing season and see where an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) can assist your operation.
Most, if not all drones, come with a mobile app for your smartphone, iPad, or tablet. These apps are typically free and allow you to see in real-time what the drone sees from a few hundred feet in the air.
With the drone’s live feed, your eyes become the sensors and your brain acts as the computer that does the analytics. If your eyes detect something of interest, then you’re able to fly the drone down and hover over that location. Your brain now takes over and determines if this is an area you need to visit and give a closer look.
In the sections below we’ll go over how you can use drones throughout the growing season from pre-planting, planting, growing season, and harvest.