Experiment. Drones Optimize Yield of Winter Wheat

Drones can come in hand on your crop fields in various ways. One of which is physical condition of your plants. It‘s hard to foresee an outcome of aerial imagery before actually getting a drone and flying it above your crops.

This article wraps up our obtained results of the experiment we made to find out how actually can a drone become beneficial for your winter wheat or any other crops.

Flight details:

This flight was a test flight to check the functionality of NIR camera. For the mission medium-sized farmer‘s field was chosen. Action was taking place in Europe on May (mid-season for winter wheat). The primary idea was to see how NIR camera works. However, the results were shocking for the farmer after the imagery was combined in one “big picture” using DroneDeploy application (photo below).

Drone NDVI map of winter wheat sprayer distortion

The result was obvious from the first sight to the picture. The sprayer, which was used to distribute nitrogen on the field, was not properly calibrated and fertilizer unequally covered winter wheat. Dark green areas show more fertile areas and light green areas indicate that fertilizer was unequally distributed because identical light green areas are repeated every cycle within the row. Red areas unnecessarily mean that crops are growing much worse in those areas because of sprayer distortion. Despite that, it was worth for the farmer to go to those dark red spots on foot and check the physical condition of plants. Maybe even get the soil examples and take it to laboratory is worth considering to examine what is behind bad harvest in these areas.

So, even you are making a test flight just to check how the technology works, it can immediately help you to explore your fields from totally different angle and make tangible results.

The farmer eventually obtained two main benefits of drone usage in agriculture:

  • Sprayer‘s fertilization distribution system has to be adjusted to make equal coverage on the field. This couldn’t be obtained without crops imagery from above. As the farmer uses same sprayed for his fields, a small calibration of it can lead to huge yield optimization.

  • Drone imagery helped to identify the most problematic areas of the field and make further steps to identify the root cause of lack yield in that spot and make prevention steps in the future. Without aerial imagery farmer wouldn’t be able to find those problematic zones on foot within the range of 70 acres (~28 hectares).

Check more specifics on TOP 5 drones section about DJI Phantom 3 Standard drone which helped the farmer to optimize yield of winter wheat.

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