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Drones being used to increase crop yields


Written By: Eric Anderson, Aug 13, 2015

The Globe and Mail is reporting that . . .

Drones have long been used for military purposes, but Nova Scotia-based start-up Sky Squirrel Technologies Inc. has found a more peaceful use for the technology.

 Sky Squirrel deploys small drones equipped with infrared cameras to cruise the skies over vineyards, sending back images that help growers monitor for moisture level, disease, rot, insect damage and general crop health – all things that contribute to the quality of the grapes and the resulting wine.

 In the past, farmers would have had to walk their fields, taking samples back to send off to the lab. “If you have hundreds of acres, that is just not feasible,” says Richard van der Put, the Swiss-born co-founder and chief technology officer for Sky Squirrel.

 In comparison, the company’s drone technology takes as many as 500 images during a single flight. “Our clients send the images to us via the cloud and we combine them into a map,” says van der Put. “Then we use a specialized image algorithm that allows us to assess crop health.” With the help of GPS positioning on their mobile devices, farmers, “can see where they are currently in the field and correlate that with the analysis” to pinpoint areas of concern, van der Put says.

 The result: One client managed to reduce his water usage by a third. And the system has proven 97 per cent effective at detecting diseases like Flavesence Dorée – which mainly affects European vineyards. It also picks up leafroll – a disease that can devastate vineyards, wiping out 30 to 50 per cent of the crop.

. . ..

 Other companies have focused on technology with a wider application. Manitoba-based Farmers Edge Precision Consulting Inc. got its start in founder Wade Barnes’s basement 10 years ago with a general focus on precision agriculture and agronomics – basically using comprehensive data to boost farmers’ yields and lower their fertilizer usage. The company uses satellite images to identify where to plant, how much fertilizer to use and when and how much to irrigate – allowing farmers to increase yields and lower fertilizer and water usage (hence costs).

 

Full story at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/farmers-use-drones-and-data-to-boost-production/article25943786/

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Posted in Farm related news | Tagged with drones crop yields technology | More articles by Eric Anderson