Drones in agriculture

Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones are being used to get visual images of rice fields and to gather information more accurately. Rice researchers have been using drones to collect field data on various indicators of the nitrogen growth status, greenness of the leaf and density of the canopy.

The researchers say the use of drones is more accurate and faster than traditional methods of data collection in the fields.

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“Using emerging technologies, we aim to develop tools and models for decision making in nutrient management that result in sustainable practices and efficient rice-based cropping systems,” said Dr Ando Radanielson, a cropping systems expert with the International Rice Research Institute based in the Philippines.

Dr Radanielson has used drone technology to gather data on rice crop growth in response to climate change and nitrogen application under various crop residue management practices.

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The raw images collected are processed and converted to accurate numerical data. Drone-collected data is supplemented by plant sampling gathered from the field for analysis of nitrogen content, and to measure biomass.

All of this information will be entered into crop models to simulate and assess crop growth, predict productivity, and define proper nitrogen management based on specific conditions in fields.

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Full story inside Smart Farmer magazine Issue 36

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