US: Researchers at the Michigan State University (MSU) are using their first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to help farmers maximise their yields.
MSU’s UAV has three sensors: a high-resolution radiometer; a thermal camera, used to monitor plant temperature and hydration; and a laser scanner, which measures individual plant height in centimetres.
It can fly at low altitudes (less than 100 feet). The UAV follows a pre-programmed pattern on autopilot. It measures how crops react to factors such as drought, nutrients deficiency or pests. It gives farmers details on the current health of their crops. The visual information helps farmers in improving nitrogen and water management and reducing environmental impact such as nitrate leaching or nitrous oxide emissions.”Armed with this knowledge, farmers can quickly pinpoint problem areas and address them with a precise rifle, as opposed to, a shotgun approach,’ said Bruno Basso, MSU ecosystem scientist.