USDA/DWFI grant has drones buzzing toward increased crop production

USDA/DWFI grant has drones buzzing toward increased crop production

Calendar Icon Oct 24, 2017          RSS Feed RSS

The Unmanned Aircraft Research team includes Biological Systems Engineering faculty (from left) – Joe Luck, associate professor; Christopher Neale, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute director of research; Wayne Woldt, associate professor; George Meyer, professor; Derek Heeren, assistant professor; and Yufeng Ge, assistant professor.
The Unmanned Aircraft Research team includes Biological Systems Engineering faculty (from left) – Joe Luck, associate professor; Christopher Neale, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute director of research; Wayne Woldt, associate professor; George Meyer, professor; Derek Heeren, assistant professor; and Yufeng Ge, assistant professor.

A $500,000 research project involving Biological Systems Engineering faculty and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute will deploy drone aircrafts in search of improved crop irrigation efficiency.

The project will conduct regular flights of unmanned aircraft equipped with multispectral and thermal infrared imaging sensors, from planting to harvest, and also explore a new concept in which an unmanned aircraft is used to communicate with in-field soil water content and canopy temperature sensors.

“Essentially, we will be able to economically collect near real-time crop and soil water content data, that are not currently available, and use these data to create water management prescriptions for newer variable rate center pivot irrigation systems,” according to Wayne Woldt, one of the investigators, director of the NU-AIRE laboratory, and an associate professor of Biological Systems Engineering and in the School of Natural Resources. "With this sophisticated level of detail, farmers can respond quickly and more accurately to their soil conditions, increasing crop production while maximizing their water use efficiency."