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The rise of advanced drones in smart farming

The rise of advanced drones in smart farming

Photo credit - TerraNova-YieldTours

Drones Insights, Developments, and Future Prospects in Crop Management

By Denise Faguy

Andres Hurtado and Alex Acosta, co-founders of Terranova UAV, have been at the forefront of agri-tech innovations, continually introducing advanced drone technology to the agriculture industry.

Their journey, marked by numerous technological advancements, has led to the development of versatile tools and strategies aimed at enhancing crop yields and reducing environmental impact.

They shared their passion for drone technology in agriculture during the recent 2023 Great Ontario Yield Tour events at the beginning of September.

Today, the technology landscape has witnessed significant progression, with drones becoming essential tools in agricultural workflows. Terranova UAV focuses on decisions that enhance yields, minimize costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly aiming to optimize nitrogen use without compromising crop quality.

The incorporation of a multispectral drone from DJI, equipped with six cameras and an RTK station, has proved instrumental in capturing detailed insights across fields. This technology, costing around $25,000 in Canada, enables directed scouting, variable rate applications, plant counts, and much more.

The application of high-resolution multispectral imagery using drones has provided valuable lessons and showcased future possibilities. For instance, detailed plant counts in farm fields in Tillsonburg and Exeter, Ontario have helped growers identify areas of varying potential and understand resource-to-emergence correlations.

A breakthrough in technology utilization came with the introduction of the NDRE (Near Normalized Difference Red Edge) algorithm. This innovative technology reads signals from plants based on their potential to absorb nitrogen, aiding in the differentiation of areas in terms of nitrogen uptake.

The real-time application of this technology has allowed growers to witness variable changes as they maneuver their tractors, underlining the practicality and immediate impact of the technology. Despite environmental challenges, the technology proved effective in conserving nitrogen and optimizing resource allocation.

Terranova UAV’s technology has shown promising results with a variety of crops. Moreover, the technology has been utilized in research projects, displaying potential in detecting various agricultural concerns like drought, bug damage, and diseases through high-resolution imagery.

Scouting has been revolutionized, providing exact locations of every plant with centimeter-level accuracy, and allowing for targeted examination and identification of potential issues. Additional applications include tile measurement from the air, dryness analysis for optimal harvest timing, weed detection, and early detection of crop destruction or drowned areas.

Watch the video below to see the complete presentation.

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