NDVI survey effect on financials

Hello gals and guys,

I was wondering how much input material (fertilizer, water, chemicals, fuel, etc) can be saved by the farmer, if NDVI surveys are made. And also how much is the increase of yield?

I have seen many tests and all the articles and blogposts say that fertilizer can be saved, less water, chemical and fuel consumption, increased yields, etc., okay but how much? 5%? 10%? 30%? What is the real impact of such information on a farm's output?

I know it is very relative, it depends on the current health of plants, on the species of the plant, on the equipment, on the expertise of the farmer, ther agronomist, and many other factors, but a farmer asked me lately this question and I could not answer this simple question.

I was looking for any data available, comparable, timeline, anything, but I could not find any. Does anybody have info on that? I think the increase of yield is important, but any info would be appreciated.



You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones

Email me when people reply –


  • From the information I have gathered over the years from customers about savings from traditional scouting and existing use of infrared imagery taken from aircraft, the thoughts are that it is too variable to pin down an exact average.
    Thoughts are;
    Water savings is only going to be a selling point in irrigated country (where I live). In dryland country it doesn't matter, they either get it from the sky, or they don't. There is no "savings", it's usually too much, or too little. Mother nature can be a bitch.
    How much savings they get from being able to see a bug infestation a few days or week earlier than traditional ground scouting methods will depend on the specific bug pressure in a given year. Some years the bugs don't show up in certain crops, so you wouldn't save them anything, if they aren't there, they aren't there. On a year like this one though, after a mild winter, you certainly could save them some by detecting damage earlier. The savings would actually cost more in spraying, but provide an increased yield bump in profit at the end. How much would depend on the given crop's specific commodity price that particular month/year and possibly in the cost of what chemicals can be used. Sometimes earlier detection provides more options for the grower. Possibly one insecticide that costs $100 per gallon and maybe another that costs $400 per gallon. If the problem isn't found early then they might only have the $400 per gallon option. So that is a thought too.
    As far as fertilizer inputs......yeah, we have been doing variable rate applications by both ground and air for fifteen years or so. In that time I haven't found it to just explode into every crop we grow with popularity. What I saw more often than not was that other than a few fields that were large enough to have multiple soil types, or have a particularly low, or high, spot to really affect the nutrient composition in comparison to the remaining majority of that field, is that when a variable rate application was made and say 100#'s was put on most of the field, 125#'s on the parts that were light in biomass, and 75#'s on the heavy biomass portion, the following application two or so weeks later was almost exactly opposite in about 75% of the applications. Not to say that it had no value, but after the grower paid for all the imagery charges and the added cost of variable rate application, he just put 100#'s on the whole field without all the newfangled technology cheaper and in the end it pretty much evened out, lol. Certainly can be more useful on some crops than others though, for sure. I would think that you'd have to go through two full seasons to see if the data gathered truly saves money or not. If they were averaging 100#'s and the data told them to only put 50#'s on 20 acres of a field, and that 20 acres yielded the same as the rest, and THEN the following year did the same, then yes, that's savings. If it doesn't yield the same, or if on the following season the grower has to put 150#'s on that 20 acres to make up for the nutrient deficiency, then there was no savings.
    Fun things to ponder and analyze.
    I have a friend that is getting into this biz with a full sized Cessna 182 using the platform of the Tomahawk cruise missile guidance eye (it's a franchise type thing) so we'll know more shortly.
    • That's interesting, thanks for this detailed answer. After two decades of experience, you seem to me quite sceptic about the usefulness of such surveys. I know that mother nature can be a b*tch, but your words say to me that financially it's not making any sense to make such surveys. Am I wrong?

    • I think I'm saying it depends on the exact situation, on an exact crop, with an exact commodity price to be had at the end of a season.
      Aerial surveys are certainly useful to a point because I have customers that pay for them now. But the question was, "how much are they saving"? I am merely relating my experiences as an applicator where the application rates were varied based on imagery data, and how that ended.
      It still seems to be "boots on the ground" that is the most common crop survey tool to this day, so far. The imagery certainly will help the grower point the boots in the right direction though.
      We'll see how it plays out. Many companies have been doing it with airplanes for years, UAS is emerging, and at the same time satellite use is getting easier and better as well.
      I believe the biggest potential pitfall coming up for all of us in the ag service provider market is going to be this little slowdown that we are entering. Reduced commodity prices are going to make many growers tighten up on speculative spending. There are two mind sets when prices descend; one is, "prices are low so I should do everything I can to get the most yield out of every acre I can", and the second is, "prices are low so I can't spend a cent on anything but the bare bones to get the crop to harvest". Unfortunately most growers take the latter of the two perspectives. I am fortunate that I have a few customers that take the first and carry forward with discretionary spending even in the face of lower prices.
      Corn prices in the US have been on a high since the ethanol mandate and now that is changing. We will see how that affects all of us come this fall.
      This domain may be for sale!
    • Here is an example of boots on the ground.
      I just finished the above post and opened my email to find this pest alert for cereal leaf beetle in wheat. Notice the scouting suggestion of walking in a "w" and stopping at 5-10 locations, and counting larvae and eggs on 10 plants per location to decide if the economic threshold to spray has been met. I'm not sure any camera mounted on any platform can count eggs on plants.......yet. Most of this type of scouting is done free of charge by the chemical sales companies.
      Again, looking at biomass from infrared cameras could help point the scout in the direction of which field to look in first, but in the end he/she's going to get there anyway.
      Alert Information:
      Cereal leaf beetle infestation was identified in winter wheat experimental plots at the University of Idaho Parma Research and Extension Center as well as in surrounding grower fields in Canyon County. The typical feeding patterns, eggs and larvae have been confirmed by Dr. James Barbour, UI IPM Specialist. The first symptoms of infestation became apparent last week. Currently, most plants have at least one leaf with obvious feeding damage. The cereal leaf beetle has a variety of hosts among cereals and grasses with preference to oat, barley, wheat, rye, timothy, fescue, grain sorghum and corn. Substantial crop yield loss and quality decrease can be expected due to lost photosynthetic activity resulting from the feeding damage.
      Cereal leaf beetle is a quarantined insect the U.S., which means that the presence of beetles in grain restricts exports to uninfested areas. Fumigation is required to prevent the spread of beetle infestation.
      Scouting of fields is vital both before and during the boot stage to assess for cereal leaf beetle presence and damage. It is recommended to scout weekly by walking through the field in a “W” pattern for best coverage. Stop at 5-10 locations depending on field size and examine 10 plants per location. Count the number of eggs and larvae per plant for smaller plants or per stem for larger plants.
      Treatment thresholds: 3 larvae per plant and/or 3 eggs per plant before boot stage, and 1 larva per flag leaf after boot stage.

      Management-chemical control (From PNW Insect Management Handbook)
      • bifenthrin (BrigadeÆ 2EC and WSB) at 6.4 fl oz/a (0.1 lb ai/a). Apply in spring if one or more eggs or larvae are detected or in late summer if beetles are defoliating seedling stands. Maximum amount allowed 12.8 fl oz/a (0.2 lb ai/a) per season but no more than once every 12 days. PHI 30 days prior to harvest for forage, hay and seed.
      • cyfluthrin (Baythroid XL) at 0.013 to 0.015 lb ai/a. PHI 0 days. REI 12 hr. Maximum amount allowed per 5 day interval is 0.022 lb ai/a. Maximum amount allowed per crop season is 0.089 lb ai/a.
      • lambda-cyhalothrin (Warrior) at 0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/a. PHI 0 days for grazing and forage, 7 days for straw and seed crop. REI 24 hr.
      • zeta-cypermethrin (Mustang MAX) at 0.0175 to 0.025 lb ai/a. PHI 0 days forage, hay; 7 days straw and seed screenings. REI 12 hr. For forage and hay use no more than 0.10 lb ai/a per season; make subsequent applications no closer than 7 days. For straw and seed screenings use no more than 0.125 lb ai/a per season; make subsequent applications no closer than 17 days.
    • George describes detailed how complex it is, and, if you have to sumarize pay the service, more complex, I do it for my crops but it's a lot of work for sell service, not cheap. ;) ...and if to low prices, the goverment caugth 30-50% forgot to sell services in my country :(.

  • I would like to see some actual numbers as well. Following this post...

  • Really it have a lot of variabllity but a number to give a client 10-30%, but not only NDVI, the hole package: monitoring insect an diseases, and nutrients,  presicion aplications, the other question is how the crops were being managing or monitoring up the moment to compare, how much acres, etc etc etc and how knowledge have the agronomist to analyze the information .....I hear someones here that try to sell services like this that offers terrorific things :O that ones the % is -10 - 40

This reply was deleted.