Submitted to: Computers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 5, 2010
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Citation: Lan, Y., Thomson, S.J., Huang, Y., Hoffmann, W.C., Zhang, H. 2010. Current status and future directions of precision aerial application for site-specific crop management in the USA. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 74:34-38. Interpretive Summary: Satellite and aerial remote sensing technologies have advanced rapidly as useful tools for site-specific management in crop production and crop protection, particularly in the emerging area of aerial precision spray application. The integration of GPS-GIS guidance and delivery systems on agricultural aircraft has led to vast improvements in spray coverage and a corresponding reduction in off-target movement of pesticides. However, there is still considerable room for improvement. Future spray systems can be designed to overcome some of the deficiencies in current aerial delivery systems, benefitting both producers and applicators. Additionally, airborne remote sensing coupled with precision applications will benefit aerial applicators by creating a new revenue source because remote sensing missions could be easily scheduled to coincide with aerial spray applications.
Technical Abstract: The first variable-rate aerial application system was developed about a decade ago in the USA and since then, aerial application has benefitted from these technologies. Many areas of the United States rely on readily available agricultural airplanes or helicopters for pest management, and variable-rate aerial application provides a solution for applying field inputs such as cotton growth regulators, defoliants, and insecticides. In the context of aerial application, variable-rate control can simply mean terminating spray over field areas that do not require inputs, terminating spray near pre-defined buffer areas determined by Global Positioning, or applying multiple rates to meet the variable needs of the crop. Prescription maps for aerial application are developed using remote sensing, Global Positioning, and Geographic Information System technologies. Precision agriculture technology has the potential to benefit the agricultural aviation industry by saving operators and farmers time and money.