On Farm Agronomy Applications for UAVs

(Jamie) Welcome back to Farm Factor, as Kyle and Dr. Asebedo visit about applications for UAVs.
(Kyle) Hi this is Kyle with Dr. Ray Asebedo. We are at Kansas Farm Bureau today. Their commodity groups are meeting. Dr. Asebedo has been talking about UAV’s or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. And you’re with the Agronomy Department. How do you see the use of these vehicles when it comes to agronomy? (Ray) Right now I see them as having the potential to be a very valuable tool for use in agronomy for making various types of on-farm management decisions, such as your nitrogen recommendations. Variable rate nitrogen recommendations cost farmers a lot of money. With the appropriate algorithm or the brain if you will, we’re trying to give that drone an agronomic PhD, so that it can help you decide what is the yield for your farm and also what kind of fertility program you need to run. (Kyle) Now the tools that we have on these UAVs have really been available for awhile, but it was involving an airplane or a satellite in order to do it. This you can do on your own time and on your own schedule. (Ray) That’s correct. You know satellite imagery has been around along time, since the 70s, since Lancet One went up. Had a lot of potential. But the big thing is about drones is that now with the flight controller technology making it so literally anybody can fly, it’s a very convenient solution that farmers themselves can throw it in the back of their pickup, run to a field and it will fly up in the air fly the field and with the right K-State algorithm, give them a yield estimation and nitrogen recommendation. (Kyle) Literally within minutes. (Ray) Literally within minutes. We’re talking about 25 minutes to fly a 160 acre field usually. (Kyle) So what sort of things can I hope to direct from my UAV? Fungicides, fertility, insecticides, which of those? (Ray) Right now we’re building algorithms to try to help so the drone can give you recommendations whether or not you should apply your fungicide, help identify where the problems in the field are, identify the stress. Is it disease? Is it water stress? Is it nutrient? And so we’re trying to make it to apply a number of different crops, to your livestock. And so the more applications it can have on the farm that means higher return on investment. And so that way the farm makes more profit per acre across may different years. (Kyle) How close are these algorithms available for the public? (Ray) For crops like winter wheat and grain sorghum they’re very close. Like for making yield estimations and nitrogen recommendation on winter wheat, we’ve been validated for the past couple years. Ad so I’m really hoping for in 2017 we can make them publicly available. (Kyle) So, the average farmer is 58 years old. Can the average 58-year-old farmer fly one of these? (Ray) Actually yea, you know there’s actually a number of 60 some year old farmers that I know that have purchased one and flown ’em. They said they’ve flown them into trees and sometimes themselves, but you know they’re playing around with it as a toy. But the farm being multi-generational and that 58-year-old farmer has a 20 year old grandson out there or granddaughter and they’re actually the ones I’ve met that are actually running the drone and taking care of the flights and those things. Cause the younger generation, that’s what they’re interested in. (Kyle) We’re talking with Dr. Ray Asebedo. He’s with the Agronomy Department at Kansas State University. This is Kyle Bauer reporting from Manhattan. Back to you Jamie.
(Jamie) Thanks for joining us. I’m your host Jamie Bloom and I hope you enjoyed today’s show. See you next week on Farm Factor – we’re here every Tuesday on AGam in Kansas.

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