Drones Can Reduce Stress in Crops

Lars  Dalgaard

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Drones Can Reduce Stress in Crops

If farmers' crops or horticulture plants are hit by disease, pests or lack of nutrients, they become stressed - and this affects the yield and thereby the financial bottom line.

Specialists from Danish Technological Institute (DTI) units Agriculture and Digitalization and Robot Technology are working together to develop new, useful solutions for farmers and horticulturalists. They combine knowledge about:

  • Advanced drone technology
  • Vision technology for monitoring the health of the plants
  • The challenges and needs of the industry
  • The optimal parameters for promoting the health of this particular crop

- We have been looking for solutions for agriculture and horticulture so that they can become more efficient in their production. We use drones to fly advanced sensors over fields and plants to detect early signs of stress. And in collaboration with agronomists, who know these signs and how to treat them, we can prevent stress and increase yields”, says section leader Jakob Kortbek from DTI's Center for Robot Technology.

- Agriculture in Denmark is constantly increasing and it is very important that farmers go round and inspect all their fields for disease, nutrient deficiency or other problems. Drones can be an important factor in saving inspection time while at the same time achieving timeliness in combating disease”, says section leader Lars Byrdal Kjær from DTI’s center for Land Surveying, Technology and Analysis (Agriculture and Digitalization).

Drones in agriculture must provide the agro industry with better and cheaper options for monitoring the health status of their plants before problems get established.

- Plant stress can be devastating. It can be incredibly expensive if you have plants that lack water, go a weekend without monitoring, or you get pests that are not detected in time”, explains Carsten Garbo Schroll from the horticultural firm SCHROLL in Årslev.

To meet the industry's needs, we are working to develop user-friendly, flexible and reliable drones using the latest technology.

- We are working on the next generation of drone technology. Some of the technologies we are developing are indoor positioning of drones, anti-collision systems, autonomy, automated path planning and our shared autonomy concept, where the work is split between an automation system and a human operator”, says drone expert Mathias Flindt of DTI’s Center for Robot Technology and continue.

- The drones in themselves do not really give great value, but the moment we combine them with vision technology and automated processing of camera data, we can provide precise information that can be used to great effect in the industry. Then we have a drone technology that helps create real high value.

In the video above you can see how and where drones can be of assistence for farmers and plant nurseries.

The activities are backed by the Danish Agency for Institutions and Educational Grants under the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.