Growers using drones to make every drop count
This year, local growers have been grappling with uncertainty as Paradise Dam on the Burnett River in Qld continues to be an unreliable source of water and reduced allocations loom ahead. This has placed growers in a precarious position and raised pressing concerns around the community’s financial future and emotional health.
For anyone in the agriculture industry, there is no question about effective water management being at the top of the list of requirements for a successful harvest. Now even more so, growers are looking for innovative ways to avoid losing trees and meet nutrition and water demands.
Aerial imagery experts, Aerobotics have been a leader in the precision farming industry by providing insights into crop performance on its web-based platform, Aeroview.
General manager Australia at Aerobotics, Yoav Yichie said the company has heard its customers’ needs and developed intelligent tools for measuring water stress to ensure irrigation distribution uniformity is achieved.
This technology detects water-stressed trees, which could be caused by irrigation issues. The platform makes use of high-resolution multispectral and thermal imagery to provide growers with these insights at a level unseen to the naked eye. With an overview of crop performance one click away, growers can pick up on threats to crop performance like water stress faster than they would manually scouting on the ground.
Aerobotics has also announced it is launching a new tool for irrigation management which makes use of thermal imagery to measure water stress in every plant, which allows for an evaluation of how the trees are transpiring.
This is an advanced and critical overview that will enable growers to evaluate if they are irrigating uniformly and up to the expected standards. To capture this data, a drone flies from a vantage point where Aerobotics can pick up on temperature differences that indicate crop stress. Growers will use this highly anticipated product to detect early-stage water stress at a new level of detail, on a per-tree basis.
Mr Yichie said that by using high resolution drone imagery, Aerobotics has been able to generate very accurate crop water stress maps based on the evaporation patterns of each individual plant, allowing for targeted actions on specific issues on the ground, such as leaks, blockages and ineffective system layouts.
“Satellite and plane-based imagery can give growers a high-level overview of what is going on, but do not provide sufficient resolution and control over environmental conditions such as clouds, in order to generate an accurate water stress tool which can lead growers to specific issues.
“Using Aerobotics’ irrigation insights, growers can effectively maintain their irrigation systems, targeting stressed trees before yields are impacted.
“Customers have set up their irrigation systems and scheduled irrigation based on drainage patterns, specific plant need and resource availability; and ensured critical locations are being monitored at the required intensity with representative in-field sensors.”
To ground truth and report on Aeroview’s insights, the Aeroview InField mobile app (available for iOS and Android), provides a quick guide to areas flagged for investigation. Once the issue has been diagnosed, teams can collaborate on Aeroview to make corrections and assess the impact of interventions.
On the platform, users can assign tasks to team members and share a snapshot of any category of insights with advisors.
Commenting on the effectiveness of Aerobotics’ technology, Michele Valier, orchard technical manager at Stahman Webster said: "Aerobotics has given us quick and high-resolution visibility of our orchards. Their software provides an overview of the orchards and using different parameters and comparing the trend of these over time is essential for understanding the health performances of our trees.
“The tree count tool pays off very quickly as it eliminates manual counting. I have found Aerobotics to be a reliable data supplier, with constant improvement of the technology and I look forward to irrigating more efficiently using their latest water stress analysis."
To date, Aerobotics has flown and generated insights for over one hundred million trees to help growers, investors and insurers improve their production and profitability.
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