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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Pesticide Application Technologies for Spray-drift Management, Maximizing In-field Deposition, and Targeted Spraying

Location: Crop Production Systems Research Unit

Title: Development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Site-Specific Crop Production Management

Authors
item Huang, Yanbo
item Hoffmann, Wesley
item Lan, Yubin
item Thomson, Steven
item Fritz, Bradley

Submitted to: International Symposium on Precision Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 6, 2010
Publication Date: August 2, 2010
Citation: Huang, Y., Hoffmann, W.C., Lan, Y., Thomson, S.J., Fritz, B.K. 2010. Development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Site-Specific Crop Production Management. Proceedings of 10th International Conference on Precision Agriculture, July 18-21, 2010, Denver, CO. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that is remotely operated and flies without a human crew on board the aircraft. UAVs are either helicopter or fixed-wing airplane. They have been developed and applied in the practice of precision agriculture. Compared to aircrafts piloted by a human crew on board, an UAV is used to cover much smaller crop fields with much lower flight altitude than regular airplanes to perform site-specific management with high precision. In agriculture, UAVs have been developed and used for chemical application for crop protection and production and remote sensing for crop inspection and control of chemical application. The spray system on board the UAV is able to deliver fertilizers and chemicals at specific time and location for highly accurate site-specific management. The remote sensing imaging system on board the UAV can provide routine monitoring of crop plant health with super-resolution for highly accurate site-specific management as well. This paper overviews the development of UAVs for crop production management. An ultra low volume sprayer for a UAV helicopter is evaluated. Two other UAVs, one helicopter and one fix-wing airplane, are evaluated for low-altitude remote sensing over crop fields. The integration of the spray system and the remote sensing system on UAV systems has a great potential in identifying crop stresses for spraying crop production and protection materials at different rates over small crop fields.

Technical Abstract: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have been developed and applied to support the practice of precision agriculture. Compared to piloted aircrafts, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle can focus on much smaller crop fields with much lower flight altitude than regular airplanes to perform site-specific management with high precision. In crop production management, UAVs have been developed and used for chemical application and remote sensing. Agricultural application of fertilizers and chemicals is frequently needed at specific time and location for highly accurate site-specific management. Routine monitoring of crop plant health is often required with super-resolution for highly accurate site-specific management as well. UAVs are the technology to fulfill the goals of such crop management. This research overviews the development of UAVs for crop production management. The development of an ultra low volume sprayer for a UAV helicopter is described. The results of the field study are analyzed and discussed. Two other UAVs, one helicopter and one fix-wing airplane, are evaluated for low-altitude remote sensing over crop fields. The integration of the spray technology and the remote sensing technology on the UAV systems provides a great potential to identify crop stresses and hence spray crop production and protection materials at different rates over small crop fields to realize highly accurate site-specific crop production management.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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