Precision agriculture is a management strategy for agriculture that makes use of modern instrumentation and is aimed at performing agronomic interventions taking into account the actual cultivation needs and the biochemical and physical characteristics of the soil. (source Wikipedia)
Agricultural technicians and all those who can benefit enormously from the use of drones studied and designed for “precision farming” (the use of multispectral and thermal sensors in combination with georeferencing) will be able to analyze the situation of the cultivation, so as to be able to undertake any corrective action in a timely manner or to assess anomalies which, if observed from the ground or by traditional means, are not always so obvious.
Using multispectral technologies, for example, you can monitor crops precisely and, with special cameras, you can see nanometer frequencies (specific colors). This makes it possible to understand if there are any anomalies and possibly localize them precisely, as happens with some parasites that change the color of the leaf with their pigment shade. With this technology we can therefore see its specific color and work immediately with a precise and targeted pest control in the affected area.
More and more recently, we are planning and delivering many machines for the biological treatment of crops affected by pests. These are high-performance drones, capable of treating 6 to 10 hectares in a single flight, equipped with special equipment to sprinkle the soil with natural antagonists. One of the last works was to create a machine with a hopper that dispersed over the territory of the larvae of TRICOGRAMMA BRASSICAE, distributed by a Dutch multinational that serve to counteract PIRALIDE infestations in an organic and extremely effective way.
Current fertilization recommendations (image below) are based on a mixture of soil taken from the whole field and information derived from the map. The extra potassium fertilizer in good positions could simply be at ground water level, while the worst positions will benefit from a much larger dosage of P. Interesting is to mention the added value of the imaginary, as agronomists could hardly find nutritional deficiencies even when the position was known.
The advantages of the new technology
The map helped select soil sampling locations and the discovery of potassium variations in the soil, which have a potentially significant influence on crop growth and quality. This targeted K fertilizer has reduced costs by reducing fertilizer intake and reduced the negative environmental impact of K percolation in groundwater.
On-site scouting uses visual inspection to assess the state of the crop from the ground. Unfortunately, such ground techniques are limited to what the human eye can see. Innovative technologies that use drones and multispectral images have enormous potential in completing field scouting and the art of agronomy.
OPTIMIZED DRONES FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF LIQUIDS
Drones with a load capacity of up to 10 kg of liquids, They can distribute an area of 4,000-6,000 m² at high speed in just 10 minutes, tens of times faster than a manual distribution. The automatic distribution system is a variable rate depending on the flight conditions. The amount of liquid distributed is regulated very precisely
BIOCOMPATIBLE AND NON-INVASIVE AERIAL TREATMENTS OF LIQUID AND GRANULATED PRODUCTS
DRONS equipped with a 10-liter tank and with 3 nozzles for spraying can distribute liquid products or, equipped with a special granulate distribution kit, can distribute products in granular form.
In automatic flight and grazing to the crop, the right amount of product is delivered at low drift.
A special flight planning through the dedicated software allows a uniform distribution of the product based on the specifications.
BIOLOGICAL FIGHT AT MAIS PYRALIDE IN RESPECT OF THE ENVIRONMENT
DRONS equipped with distribution kits releases with high precision guaranteed by the GPS, TRICHOGRAMMA capsules for the biological control of corn borer. The planning software generates automatic flights based on morphology, field shape and the correct amount of TRICHOGRAM to be distributed. In flight, the kit installed on the DRONE releases the capsules based on the schedule made based on the position detected by the GPS. Each trip is validated by a system of sensors and run time is monitored by the ground station.
At the end of the flight, an overall report of the releases made is generated.
STUDY – ANALYSIS – DAMAGE DETECTION
DRONS equipped with high-resolution cameras, infrared thermal sensors and multispectral chambers, acquires the data that are processed rapidly and generates maps of vegetative vigor essential for locating areas of water stress, areas with poor fertilization, useful for differentiated treatments. Where the data acquired by the satellite do not guarantee the right resolution and the right acquisition frequency, the DRONE represents the best tool for Precision Agriculture.
ROI Case: Important damage from weather event
When the hail arrived, the corn farmer, knowing he had been hit, did not know how severe and widespread the damage was. He immediately called the drone monitoring technicians to provide an overview of the situation. Using his monitoring service subscription, with the help of technicians, he checked the situation and was able to calculate that 40% of an area was compromised and that he would probably get about 30% of his usual return from the damaged part. This information allowed him to vary his nitrogen application, reducing his costs by about half.
The rest of the season the farmer has worked to increase his yield through targeted interventions and specifically through early intervention and precise application of the fertilizer.
– Total Acres: 128
– Monitoring subscription: € 2500
-% of nitrogen saved: 50
– Reduction in nitrogen application costs: € 4,800
– Increase in revenue: € 1,800
– Total benefit: € 4.100
ROI case: timely and punctual detection
A soybean farmer has noticed an infestation of angular Sicios (Thorny gourd) near the perimeter of his field. Through the intervention of thermographic survey of a drone and data processing by comparison it could be verified that the dark areas were weeds on the surface of the crop. The quantification and localization of the infestation has therefore allowed a combination of mechanical and chemical treatments to eradicate the pest. The grower was able to promptly solve the problem before a spread such as to make it critical to restore the acceptable parameters and at a low cost.
– Total acres: 110
– Cost of interventions by drone with camera and treatment in proximity: € 1,800
-% of harvest loss avoided: 13%
– Savings on crop loss: € 4,500
– Savings from the precise application of herbicides: € 1,650
– Labor savings: € 1,200
– Total Benefit: € 5,550
The APR, equipped with high-resolution cameras, thermal infrared sensors and multispectral chambers, acquires the data that are processed rapidly and generates maps of vegetative vigor essential for locating areas of water stress, areas with poor fertilization, useful for differentiated treatments. Where the data acquired by the satellite do not guarantee the right resolution and the right acquisition frequency, the DRONE represents the best tool for Precision Agriculture.
Reason of Choice
Thermography is not a technique created for agricultural purposes, but this sector has been able to draw a great benefit, precisely because the analyzes, not being invasive, guarantee the maximum protection and care of soils, seeds, plants and trees. For this reason, technicians expert in infra-red and thermographic images have been able to highlight a series of investigations that allow to have a better control over the health status of soil and plants. These diagnoses can be very necessary and useful for obtaining information that varies according to the type of crop. The most common type of investigation concerns the correct irrigation of the soils and, therefore, allows to check the humidity level and the presence of possible water stress of the plants. Furthermore, it is possible to point the sensors of the thermographs towards the plants and the trees, to make sure about the health conditions of the same, that is their internal temperature. It should be emphasized that the parameters that can be evaluated and measured by thermography are essential to ensure healthy growth and development for the crop. Water stress, for example, indicates a persistent lack of water that can lead the plant to suffer and die, but also to adapt. While the first case can be easily seen only when the plant begins to suffer, the second case is even more dangerous for the plant itself since adaptation is not always a positive answer. In fact, it can lead the plant to survive, but not necessarily in a healthy way: little tonic leaves of small or drooping and fruits that do not reach the correct maturation can be late evidences of the water shortage to which the plant has been subjected. Through thermography, therefore, it is possible to constantly monitor all the soil and its humidity, intervening in time when problems related to water stress are encountered.
On the other hand, too much soil moisture can be a problem for certain crops, so thermography becomes essential to measure the soil’s hygrometric state which, of course, must be different not only depending on the type of land, but also of the type of crop.
When we talk about thermography in agriculture, we immediately understand that the methods of detection that allow thermal monitoring of crops and / or lands must take place from above, by remote sensing. The most used means to carry out this detection are the drones, which are easy to use and drive. As you can imagine, these are drones equipped with special cameras, able to perform precision measurements on one or more parameters depending on the model of the drone itself. The detail with which the various information of interest can be detected has led to the development of a new term that perfectly describes this type of agricultural work: precision agriculture.
The drone cameras, in fact, can not only work in the infrared and therefore carry out thermographic investigations, but they can also collect a large number of information related to the area on which they fly (such as temperature and air humidity) and take very high pictures resolution that allow to evaluate possible plant pathologies. Furthermore, image control and the creation of thermal maps can be carried out in real time, ie during the drone recording or subsequently, depending on the case and needs. Naturally, it is necessary that these images should be read and interpreted by an expert technician, able to understand the meaning of the false colors released by the thermographic survey and assess any risk factors for the crop.
The monitoring activities take place in different ways; from visual to instrumental checks. Based on the findings, the technicians can identify any critical issues that require further checks in order to determine the necessary interventions.
A valid support to the various monitoring activities are the drones.
Existing practices must exploit the opportunity offered by drone technology and put operators at risk only when all other options have been exhausted.
An advantage of the use of drones is the visual controls, which can be performed more frequently and in a timely manner, at lower costs, avoiding that technicians have to operate in intrinsically dangerous environments by using complex structures to reach the various structural elements.
Use of drones in critical environments
Drones can also be used in environments that are critical due to electromagnetic interference or limited accessibility to places.
The latest generation of drones are equipped with: