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Drones could provide reliable and accurate data to producers

United States Spanish

A researcher is studying the use of drones for fruit trees. The majority of agricultural applications for drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have been carried out in grain crops such as wheat, corn and soybeans.

"The adoption and use of crop sensors in agricultural production save thousands of dollars every year," said Olga Walsh, a researcher at the University of Idaho. "Crop sensors also help to significantly improve the efficiency of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and water. Finally, drones can minimize the negative impacts of agricultural activities on environmental quality"; The American Society of Agronomy site reported. In Idaho, the fruit industry grows grapes, blueberries, apples and even fruits such as Asian pears. Apples are the largest fruit crop in Idaho, with more than 60 million pounds of apples produced per year.

The professional research team focused on applying UAV technology to fruit trees. "We know that drones can be used in orchards," Walsh explained. "But there are no recommendations for producers regarding what data should be collected and what type of data is most useful, depending on the objective of the producer."

The most likely ways in which drones are used for orchards and nurseries are: to make an inventory of tree height and dossal volume; monitor the health and quality of trees; management of water, nutrients, pests and diseases in season; estimation of the production and yield of fruits / nuts; and, creation of marketing tools (videos for the promotion of the garden or the sale of trees and fruits). As with other uses of drones in agriculture, Walsh's work helps to collect detailed information about crops, faster than people by physically "exploring" the fields.

"UAVs are capable of acquiring high resolution images that are ideal for detecting various clipping problems," says Walsh. "UAV systems allow crops to be scanned from above. They obtain high-quality images and high-resolution spectral data. This is correlated with plant growth, health, water and nutrient status, and can be used to estimate biomass production. " All are indicators of potential performance, they explained.