March 2019 - 1

Growers get proactive
for worker relations
Grower-bred red onions
expand Walla Walla
brand
8
16
24
Barsotti named Organic
Grower of the Year
March 2019 | Volume 53 |
Issue 3
Drones becoming platform for remote sensing
USDA Agricultural Research Service
agricultural engineer Yanbo Huang, left,
and technician Ryan Poe use a drone to
identify glyphosate-resistant weeds in a
Mississippi soybean field. Photo: USDA/ARS
By Zeke Jennings
VGN Correspondent
The premise that drones will change the
landscape of agriculture has been around
for several years now. As recently as 2016,
the MIT Technology Review said drone
usage was " revolutionizing " farming.
While drones in the field - whether
for crop monitoring or spraying - is
on the rise, the hype machine seems to
have slowed. Drone usage is a part of
farming's future, but suggesting drones
will reinvent agricultural probably
borders on being hyperbole.
" Drones won't take the place of
airplanes, but they will find a place in
pesticide application, " Dominic LaJoie,
vice president of environmental affairs,
National Potato Council, said during the
recent Potato Expo in Austin, Texas.
Pesticide and herbicide application is
becoming more feasible, but - like most
other uses researchers see for drones -
not to the point of being readily available
for growers. Ian MacRae, professor and
Extension entomologist, University of
Minnesota, who has done extensive
research using drones, spoke on the subject
during the recent Great Lakes Fruit,
Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO in Grand
Rapids, Michigan.
In terms of spray application, MacRae
said affordable drones can only carry about
10 pounds of product at a time, which
hardly makes them efficient for large fields.
" It's really not for conventional
application yet, " he said.
Here is what MacRae had to say on a
variety of topics involving drone technology.
Remote sensing
" What's driving this whole idea behind
drones and remote sensing is the advances
in technology, " MacRae said. " Although
the drones are getting a lot of attention, the
drone is really just a flying tripod. The real
story comes with the sensors. Like with cell
phones, everything gets smaller, quicker,
better and cheaper. That's what's happening
with sensors. "
For example, MacRae said a
four-sensor device that measures
wavelengths to detect unhealthy plant
activity that ran for about $8,000 just a
few years ago is roughly half that today.
Thermal cameras
The way remote sensory technology
works is by sending multiple wavelengths
toward the plant and monitoring what's
reflected back. The most telltale is near
infrared light, MacRae said. A reduced
amount of reflected infrared light is a
sign of a stressed plant, but that isn't a
new finding. Where the advancement is
happening is in the use of temperaturesensitive
cameras.
" Quite frequently, with insects and
diseases, the impact that will have is
both they'll sit on the same wavelength, "
See DRONES, page 5
High-Tech Tools
2019

March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March 2019

March 2019 - 1
March 2019 - 2
March 2019 - 3
March 2019 - 4
March 2019 - 5
March 2019 - 6
March 2019 - 7
March 2019 - 8
March 2019 - 9
March 2019 - 10
March 2019 - 11
March 2019 - 12
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March 2019 - 14
March 2019 - 15
March 2019 - 16
March 2019 - 17
March 2019 - 18
March 2019 - 19
March 2019 - 20
March 2019 - 21
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March 2019 - 37
March 2019 - 38
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March 2019 - 40
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