A US scientist is investigating the potential of using aerial drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to spot symptoms of potato diseases live PVY.
Donna Delparte, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University (ISU) discussed her research at the Idaho Potato Conference in January.
“They are very much the future, especially when we’re working on trying to expand the technology and look at new and novel ways to use UAV, such as crop-invasive species,” she said.
Using a special camera it’s possible to fly a drone over a field and determine the precise locations of plants infected with PVY with a reasonable level of certainty. Delparte’s team created a profile of what an infected plant looks like with a hyperspectral camera, and then took that profile to the field to identify infected plants. The results were ‘ground-truthed’ and after tuning the algorithm reached an 89.8 percent success rate.
The drone imagery combined with a Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS system, provided the location of the PVY infected potato plants. “Imagine we send a farmer a dot on a map or a GPS that says, ‘this is where you should be able to find PVY infected plants,’ and be able to do some sort of mitigation,” Delparte explained.
Despite the promise, the costs of the camera and the computing power required to crunch the large amount of data generated are both issues which need to be overcome.
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It has been suggested that drones could be utilised by the Environment Agency to monitor and enforce rules on soil runoff and water pollution from farms.
The claims were made in a BBC report which said that a coalition of environmental organisations, including Angling Trust, WWF and the Rivers Trust – with support from the RSPB, had made the proposal in a briefing paper seen by Environmental Secretary Michael Gove.
According to the news story trials in Herefordshire had seen drones work well as part of a surveillance scheme to prevent soil loss from maize and potato fields which, according to the BBC, ‘exhaust soil and make it more likely to be washed away.’ In the trial, drones, guided by contour maps, helped the EA to identify the areas of fields most susceptible to soil erosion.
Mark Lloyd from the Angling Trust, told BBC News: “The rules on protecting soil aren’t being enforced. We need a baseline of regulation to stop bad farmers doing the wrong thing and to stop good farmers looking over the fence and seeing someone else get away with it. The trouble is that the Environment Agency can only respond to major incidents. But soil run-off is diffuse pollution – it comes in hundreds of thousands of trickles, not normally one big incident.”
In 2015 the EA trialled the use of drones to monitor waste sites from the air.
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The post Calls for EA to monitor farms with drones appeared first on Hort News on 5 April 2018.