Wednesday 18 October: Use of drones in agriculture and rural development - Part 1

Wednesday 18 October: Use of drones in agriculture and rural development - Part 1

Today (part 1) and tomorrow (part 2) we will be looking at how  drones are used in agriculture and rural development in a more thematic way. For example, how can drones help when cultivating crops? When are they useful? When can we use them to monitor pests or diseases? In which ways can drones contribute to precision agriculture. We identified some of the interesting articles and use cases in the use of drones in these specific areas:

  1. Soil and field analysis: Drones produce precise 3-D maps for soil analysis for farmers to decide where to plant but also for soil analysis after planting, providing data for irrigation and nitrogen-level management.
  2. Crop monitoring: Drones provide time-series animations which can show the precise development of a crop and reveal production inefficiencies.
  3. Input management: Drones can scan the ground and spray the correct amount of liquid for the plants to grow or drone-planting systems can shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil.
  4. Crop and livestock health: Drones can detect when a crop is low on water or minerals but can also detect diseases and prevent them from spreading.
  5. Crop insurance: Drones are used to assess damage to crops after disasters or bad weather.
  6. Rural advisory services: Drones can be used to improve rural advisory services by combining several ways of making information available to farmers.
  7. Biodiversity and conservation: Dronse can be used to monitor biodiversity and to support conservation efforts, such as protecting animals from illegal poachers.
  8. Land mapping: Drones can be used for the mapping of land and this can be very important for example for farmers in developing countries to claim land properties. More on this topic will be shared on Monday 23 October with contributions from the University of Twente.
  9. Early warning, disaster risk reduction and resilience: Drones are used frequently for early warning and response to crisis in the humanitarian context. A few examples are brought forward here and you will be able to learn more about drones in humanitarian action on Friday 27 of October.  
  10. Fishery: Drones are used to track illegal fishing
  11. Forestry: Drones are also used to monitor forests. More about drones in forestry on Friday 20 October with FAO Panama

Video: 5 ways to use drones in agriculture: aerial imagery, controlled burns, crop and livestock health, soil health, precision with chemicals

Take a look at the video from Innovation Trail embedded in this article: http://innovationtrail.org/post/drones-may-improve-agricultural-practices-increase-efficiency

Part 1: Overview of news, articles, case studies on experiences on the use of drones in agriculture per topic.

A. Soil and field analysis

Blog: Soil sampling and drone mapping combined to deliver better subscriptions

In this blog you will find a case study showing how drone imagery can be used in conjunction with soil sample data to demonstrate the relationship between soil conditions and crop health and recommend more efficient fertilizer prescriptions. https://blog.dronedeploy.com/soil-sampling-drone-mapping-combine-to-deliver-better-prescriptions-e2aac3307e46

Case study: Flying High - How a French farming cooperative used drones to boost its members’ crop yields

This case study talks about the OCEALIA Group,  a pioneering French farming cooperative that has used SenseFly drones and AIRINOV’s agronomy expertise to better assess and more accurately treat its crops. By analysing imagery with a strong agronomic approach they are able to provide reliable advice to optimise the application of nitrogen. The result: a 10% average increase in yields. https://www.sensefly.com/fileadmin/user_upload/sensefly/user-cases/2016/senseFly_AIRINOV_Ocealia_Case_Study.pdf

Article: The potential of UAV-based remote sensing for supporting precision agriculture in Indonesia

This scientific article from Procedia Environmental Issues Journal, discusses some practical examples of using UAVs for remote sensing and in supporting precision agriculture mapping. The system discussed, consists of aerial platforms from R/C plane, point and shoots digital cameras, data processing with digital photogrammetric: structure from motion algorithms, and free open source-GIS for visualizing. http://ac.els-cdn.com/S1878029615001000/1-s2.0-S1878029615001000-main.pdf?_tid=ff57fada-9991-11e7-b544-00000aab0f02&acdnat=1505423979_a9d58ed4104ebb40b2325cf3b2433ed8

Article: Ultra-fine grain landscape-scale quantification of dryland vegetation structure with drone-acquired structure-from-motion photogrammetry 

This scientific article from the Remote Sensing of Environment Journal shows how UAVs can bring solutions to provide sufficiently fine-resolution data at landscape level extents to quantify the structure of the dryland vegetation appropriately. https://ac.els-cdn.com/S0034425716302206/1-s2.0-S0034425716302206-main.pdf?_tid=60b2e280-a474-11e7-807b-00000aab0f02&acdnat=1506620721_c0c8474d1bc6c18aef41f0626082c480            

B. Crop monitoring 

News: CIP drones study over sweetpotato fields of East-Africa a success

CIP, the International Potato Center, one of CGIARs research centers, uses drones for remote-sensing to obtain data on the sweetpotato fields in East Africa. Drones can give more detailed information than satellites on crops, including accurate production statistics, onset of diseases and pest infestations and the effects of climate change. https://cipotato.org/press-room/blog/cip-drone-study-over-sweetpotato-fields-of-east-africa-a-success/ or https://cipotato.org/press-room/blog/invasion-of-the-potato-drones/ 

News: Maize breeders reaping benefits of using drones

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Southern Africa has adopted UAVs to collect data as a critical part of successful breeding programme. http://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/farming/news/maize-breeders-reaping-benefits-of-using-drones.html

Article: Why drones are valuable tools for plant breeders

This article presents the potential of drones for plant breeders who have to monitor a wide large amount of different varieties of the same plant. Plant breeders need to check the different varieties very regularly and this is extremely time consuming. By using drones and multi-spectral images they can save a lot of time and detect mature and immature plants based on changes in the light frequency they reflected. The efficiency of using drones is especially important for African farmers as they have to find new breeds of maize and wheat that are more resistant to the climate changes they are currently experiencing. https://drone-dossier.com/tag/farmdrones/

Article: Mapping crops to improve food security - IFPRI's SPAM model 

This artilce gives information about IFPRI's research on the use of drones to improve food securiry. It talks about the SPAM Model (Spatial Production Allocation model) IFPRI developed to generate highly disaggregated, crop-specific production data by triangulation of all relevant background information to generate prior estimates of the spatial distribution of crops.  http://www.ifpri.org/blog/mapping-crops-improve-food-security 

C. Input management

Video: CNN Tech : Tree-planting drones hope to fight deforestation

A British startup has designed a system that uses drones to plant trees by shooting biodegradable seed pods into the ground or scattering them in the air. http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/2017/08/14/tree-planting-drones.cnnmoney/index.html

Video: This Drone Sprays Pesticides Around Crops

Drones are a tool of precision. Flying overhead, their cameras scan for targets. The agri-drone is a small-scale adaptation of the same premise. Developed by researchers at Japan’s Saga University, the agri-drone scans crops for clusters of bugs, and then delivers a precision dose of pesticide to the plant-eating critters below. http://www.popsci.com/agri-drone-is-precision-pesticide-machine

Video: Drones for Safer Food: Precision Agriculture 

This video shows how plant agriculture researchers Liz Lee, Bill Deen, and Mary Ruth Mcdonald are incorporating drone technology into their field research. As a part of the movement called precision agriculture, this new technology allows researchers and growers to optimize pest management strategies. This translates into minimizing the environmental impact of treating plants with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. 

D. Crop and livestock health

News: Uganda government to use drones to enhance food security

This article shows how UAVs, are to be deployed in Uganda to help farmers increase agricultural output and enhance food security. http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1413930/govt-drones-enhance-food-security

News: Drones set to give global farming a makeover

From Sri Lanka to Uganda, UAVs with near-infrared sensors are monitoring plants for pests and disease, with implications for agricultural policy worldwide. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/dec/26/drones-farming-crop-problems-uavs

News: Thermal cameras arm drones for cattle scouting

By using thermal cameras attached to drones farmers are able to monitor where their cattle is even if they are in a forest. The thermal cameras will allow to identify a cow’s heat signature and also recognize if an animal has an unusual body temperature or with a more complex algorithm identify cattle behaviour and identify if an animal is acting abnormal. http://www.missourifarmertoday.com/news/livestock/thermal-cameras-arm-drones-for-cattle-scouting/article_f2049c9a-f9db-11e6-8393-6f4d2d414975.html

Video: Drones in Livestock monitoring using LoT Beacons and RFID

This video shows how monitoring livestock with drones allows to cover larger areas and enables quick and efficient monitoring of wildlife.

E. Crop insurance

News: India: insurers turn to drones to minimise risk of loss in crop schemes

This article talks about how crop insurers asses damage of crops after storms or floods to better asses crop damage and avoid fraudulent claims. http://agroinsurance.com/en/india-insurers-turn-to-drones-to-minimise-ri...

News: Government to use drones for agricultural mapping, crop and insurance assessment

The Governement of India uses drones to monitor crop production and to asses damage done by floods and other weather hasards. https://www.medianama.com/2016/07/223-govt-use-drones-agricultural-mappi...

New: Uprooting Uncertainty: UAVs for agricultural insurance sector 

Using drones can be usefull to complete satellite data where those do not provide enough detail when it ocmes to crop losses. Drones can also provide information when it is clowdy, because they fly below the clouds and this is important in India, as monsoon is the most important cropping season. https://www.geospatialworld.net/article/uavs-agricultural-insurance-sector/

Would you like to add ad a category or share other interesting examples? Add content by login in and commenting to this page. Any questions or comments? Share them with the group of participants below this text. 

Exercise 1 - have you already thought about the experience you would like to share during this activity? Still a few days before we will discuss them. Submit now on the dedicated page 

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