Commercial use of drones in farms and other agriculture

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  • 3D Robotics

    3692672874?profile=original

    Interesting article from sUAS News:

    "URSULA (UAS Remote Sensing for Use in Land Applications) is a 2-year research and development programme to explore the potential for advanced remote sensing in land applications, primarily in high input arable farming. It complements currently available remote sensing techniques, for example, satellite-derived information or real-time data, and pushes horizons for information and land management.

    What has been achieved in year one you might ask? Here’s a brief résumé:

    • Official launch event in March
    • Full flying season over a number of farms with multiple crop sampling
    • Launch and flying sortie parameter testing to plan with UAS platform development planned for year two
    • Sensor capability assessment
    • Full data processing capabilities tested including RGB, with derived digital elevation modelling, CIR and NDVI
    • Substantial market analysis and research which is ongoing
    • Planning for year 2
    "
  • 3D Robotics

    The Daily Beast on agricultural drones:

    Talk about beating swords into plowshares. The mention of drones may conjure up images of Star Wars-like spacecraft or hell-fire war machines. But the controversial technology may prove to have its greatest impact in a peaceful endeavor: farming.

    “It’s a simple economic equation. The biggest potential for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is aerial images and data acquisition. You can take a simple UAV and repurpose imagery for a farmer’s field for cents on the dollar compared to using traditional aircraft. That’s the holy grail of aerodynamics,” said Rory Paul, CEO of Volt Aerial Robotics, a St. Louis-based company.

    recent study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) predicts that in a matter of years, the drone, or UAV, industry in the U.S. could produce up to 100,000 new jobs and add $82 billion in economic activity between 2015 and 2025. A federal law mandates that the Federal Aviation Administration open up the National Airspace System by 2015. As the restrictions that currently prohibit individuals from flying drones for commercial purposes melt away, drone manufacturers could see their fortunes skyrocket.

    The change will open new markets for sales. And the agriculture sector is expected to benefit the most. “Every farmer will benefit,” Paul said. Drones “will allow small farmers to [farm] economically and it will allow large farmers to acquire data when they want it.”

    The market for agricultural drones lies in the technology’s ability to provide farmers with a bird’s-eye view of their land. Historically, farmers have walked their land to survey it—looking for areas that need more fertilizer or water. More recently many have begun using small passenger planes to look at their lots from the air. But since airplane rental and fuel costs can quickly run into five figures, there’s strong demand for cheaper alternatives.

    That’s where drones come in.

    Read the rest here.

  • 3D Robotics

    Here's a blog ("The Unmanned Farmer") from a farmer using UAVs. He hasn't posted recently, however. 

    Robert is the first farmer in the U.S. to own and use an Unmanned Air Vehicle on his farming operation. Along with hosting a precision ag day on his farm, he serves on the Idaho Grain Producer's Executive board, is the Nez Perce County Farm Bureau President, a Governmental Affairs member of the Idaho Technology Council, and is a member of Governor C.L."Butch" Otter's Regional Advisory Committee. Robert has a startup business centered around UAVs and is considered a national leader in promoting their use for agriculture and commercial purposes.

    The Unmanned Farmer
  • Moderator

    If you have some images you want to try out Agisoft has a 30 day trial of their software. http://www.suasnews.com/2013/03/21748/agisoft-release-30-day-trial-... bit pricey if it works for you though.

  • 100KM

    From all the info available on the net, I think Pretyx is a excellence professional aerial mapping UAV. Unfortunately it is only available in package form and the price may be out of reach or at least beyond their current budget for most of the guys hanging around here. I check with our local dealer here in Malaysia, they also having some difficulty to import the UAV.

    If the company will offer air frame only and we'll use APM and MP, I think more people will able to enjoy the good design of Pretyx. 

  • 100KM

    here is a link. While you are there, check out the interesting 3D amination base on aerial image. you can use autopanogiga ( free trial ) to stitch images. can try  MS ICE (freeware). You can use geosetter to geo ref individual image. Not aware any open source software able produce geo ref othomosaic. I've been using dronemapper with good result although sometime the othomosaic blending need some improvement. JP is a nice guy and he'll go all out to help you. 

  • T3

    3000 acre is 12km2. this is well into 3-4h flight at 10cm pixel resolution. Pix4D is making IR maps from dual camera setups. For NDVI you should rather forget doing two consecutive flights with both cameras unless there is zero cloud coverage and the sun angle is fixed.

  • Keeyan Pang, any links to some stitched images you have created of large areas?  Also, what are people using to stitch images together.  Don't really wanna spend the money on an expensive package right away...  What are the options out there?  I think I remember reading about some opensource-type software packages that would geo-reference images?  or was that a pipe dream?

  • 100KM

    Here is a long discussion with a under graduate student regarding the set up of New Skywalker. If you would like to use it as your air frame, it may have some useful info. 

    For me, the most comfortable flight time target is 25 - 30 minutes. This is because you can use just one 4S 5000 mah battery with sufficient reserve at the end of the flight and the all up weight of the plane is about 2.2 kg. Lighter plane always fly better.  

    If you are going to build 1/3 size piper cub, with some simple modification, you may able to get it fly for three hour so you can just sit at the comfort armchair and check your field : )  

  • Keeyan Pang, 

    That is awesome that you have done some flights covering large areas.  I was worried about how long it would take to map the whole farm, but that is definitely my first application I think, just getting some aerial images of each field each year for historical records and planning.  I'm sure our first attempts will take a bit longer than you, but we'll get there!  Thanks for the tip on Skywalker, I'll check it out.  We want something that is not monster sized (tho we are hoping to build a nice 1/3 scale piper cub or something soon for fun :) ) but big enough that it can fly in a little bit of wind, as I live in an area that is often quite windy.

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