Throughout the whole growing season, drone images can be a good tool for farmers to make their work more effective. Already in spring, drones can be used in the field to help answer important questions: How was the establishment of winter crops and how has the winter affected the crops? Where do I need to reduce or increase the seed rate next time? Should I change the time of fertilization? Where do I have weed problems?
Evaluate Crop Establishment
Before winter wheat begins to grow and enter stroke phase, a map based on drone imagery can help evaluate how even the crop is within the field. It can show parts of the field with thinner and denser crop and can serve as a good guide where to look at during the field walks in order to establish the reason for variations.
Variable Rate Fertilizer Application
Drone imagery collected early in the spring can help determine if there are thinner parts of the field that would benefit from early nitrogen application to facilitate the development of roots and side shoots, especially for late sown and slightly sparse stocks.
Variable Rate Seeding
In case drone images capture the variation in crop establishment and/or soil differences, this can be in future used as a basis for variable rate seeding.
NDVI-index from drone imagery shows variations in crop establishment Areas of poor establishment, often on stiffer soil, should be sown considerably thicker than lighter soils, where you may instead get too dense and vigorous crops which may result in crop lodging. Areas with more clayey soil have also generally higher crop potential than areas with coarser soil texture.
Drone image shows weed spread in the field With a high definition RGB camera on a drone, it is relatively easy to map weed spread. This information can then be used during the field walks. In parts where the drone images show that the weed spread is low, you may not need to make any treatment at all. It is also possible to create a variable rate application file and thus reduce the use of herbicides, benefiting both the environment and economy.
When the soil dries up in the spring, the drainage system can sometimes be clearly seen, as the soil above the drainage pipes dries up first. Drone images collected on one of these days can be used to make new drainage maps and evaluate how the drainage system works. If the soil type is similar across the field, then the drying should also be fairly even. If the drone maps show areas that dry significantly slower, it may be a sign that something is wrong with drainage system and further investigation may be performed.
Drone images collected at the right point in time can help decide correct nitrogen rate or vary seed rate during sowing and thus achieve more even crops with higher yield potential. We can makes it easy to turn drone images into valuable insights and prescription files that can be directly used in the field.