LSU Testing Use of Drones in Agriculture

LSU AgCenter researchers are examining the possibility of using unmanned drones to help farmers monitor their crops from the air. “The technology appears to be promising,” said AgCenter engineer Randy Price.

Price said a drone was used recently to check freeze damage in a sugarcane field by taking aerial photographs. He said the AgCenter hopes to send a drone equipped with a sensor to measure crop growth. The device measures the growth of a plant, providing indications of whether more fertilizer is needed on specific areas of a field.

Jimmy Flanagan, LSU AgCenter county agent in St. Mary Parish, is learning to use a helicopter drone to fly over sugarcane fields to determine if adequate fertilizer has been applied. Flanagan said the drone would be useful in maturing fields of sugarcane and corn where it is difficult to scout tall crops for disease and insufficient fertilizer. Following Flanagan, radio-controlled airplanes are available. “The copter is good for certain things, but the fixed wing is faster for covering larger acreage.”

Price said Charles Malveaux, an LSU AgCenter research associate, has built three programmable drones. “We’re in the process of building two more right now.” … (Read more)


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