The most demanding applications for UAVs are developed in the precision agriculture sector, due to the great benefits given by the use of these platforms and the tools they incorporate, what provides the farmer with useful information to perform activities with a greater optimization. This has been corroborated by many studies, and recently by the studies of the French agriculture and livestock cooperative “Ocealia”. These studies have valued positively the impact on the profitability of crops where precision agriculture is used.
Precision agriculture allows farmers to know vegetation index in their crops, like the hydric stress level and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI): the combination of aerial photographs of terrain with multispectral and IR cameras on the UAV are used to get the NDVI. This index eases an intensity radiation evaluation of some bands on the electromagnetic spectrum emitted or reflected by radiation. Through this evaluation, farmers are able to know the evolution, quantity and quality of production in their crops.
Using a UAV, it’s possible to cover a huge terrain extension in a single flight, gathering the information previously said in a much more efficient way; this information, together with satellites and other means information, can be post-processed or processed on real time to obtain an operation map. Thus, the UAV can incorporate on its system the designed map and optimally distribute, through “capsule dropping” techniques, seeds, fertilizer and so on.
Precision agriculture advantages
- Early detection of weed and fungus in crops, permitting to avoid that pests and diseases spread.
- To improve efficiency of located irrigation and hydric stress.
- Optimization of fumigated zones, considering concentration and disposition of weed.
- Optimization of fertilizers through the detection of nutritional stress to administrate the exact dosage.
- Quality control and condition of crops due to quality controls and plantations performance.
- Creation of inventories and inspection for agricultural subsidies, identifying quantity and class of tree families.
- Pest control using biologic techniques for its control, such as SIT techniques or the controlled introduction of natural enemies.
All these advantages offered by precision agriculture are available through the Veronte Autopilot system embedded in a UAV platform. This autopilot is able to perform low flights with precision altimeters, automatic activation of video cameras, controlled release of payloads, photographing with a fixed overlap or interval, obstacles avoidance, spraying systems control and much more.