Rob Aiken and Imaging Wheat with Drones

(Robert Aiken) This is Rob Aiken. We’re here at the Hays Field Day, the Spring Wheat Field Day, talking about imaging the wheat canopy with drones or unmanned aerial systems and the purpose is to help wheat breeders find some improved wheat varieties. It’s kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack and if you’re out there with tweezers, you can spend an awful lot of time trying to find that thing, but if you’ve got a really powerful magnet, then that’s something that allows you to detect that needle in a very effective way and we’re looking for something like that big magnet that we can use to detect these new, improved wheat varieties. We’re looking for traits like heat tolerance, we’re looking at traits like improved water productivity, so we’re hoping that these images we’re able to take from these drones will give us some tools where we can see things that we don’t normally see or are not able to normally detect and we’re using the drone technology or the UAS technology because it allows us to cover a relatively large area at relatively low cost. Now, we’re having to develop our own software for analyzing these images, but because it’s new and we’re not exactly sure what it is that’s going to be the most effective thing to look for, so we’re doing out own development there, but the application’s going to be important for breeders, but also for producers because when we have these techniques well-developed, when it’s possible for growers to be using this imaging technology on their production fields, we’ll have an idea what they could be looking for and how they could be processing their images. The opportunity to learn about our production system from these images is wide open. Those are all good opportunities. One application that’s being used right now is nutrient management, using ground-based systems. The opportunity to use aerial systems for detecting nitrogen deficient plants is definitely something that can be looked into. Also, detecting weed patches and programming weed control, these are all important areas that we can be looking at to help cut the cost and improve the productivity for our production systems. I work at The Experiment Station in Colby, Kansas. I’m with the Western Kansas Ag Research Centers and we have a website there if you could just search on Western Kansas Ag Research Centers and Crop Systems, you’ll find our website and also Kansas State has a campus in Salina with a department that is devoted to UAS applications and so they’re also a very important source of information for us.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.