Estimating Crop Yield With UAVs

Ashley Robinson Technology

crop yield

A researcher at the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA) in Greece is using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to estimate crop yield.

“Crop yield is the most important piece of information for crop management in precision agriculture. Early crop yield estimations allow farmers to optimize farm operation scheduling, field management and product marketing decisions,” said AUA associate professor Spyros Fountas.

Fountas spoke about his research during the 2020 virtual Ag Tech Expo, hosted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

In many cases, yield is visually estimated by the grower, but this approach isn’t always the most time-efficient or accurate. With new agricultural technologies, many farm tasks are becoming automated, including yield estimations.

According to Fountas, crop-specific yield estimation models provide an accessible solution that drastically decreases uncertainty while minimizing application efforts. These models are developed by identifying which parameters influence crop growth and development the most.

Fountas says UAVs can cover large areas quickly, perform data collection any time, and offer high-quality imagery. In addition, UAVs are not affected by cloud coverage.

Under a Flagship Innovation Experiment coordinated by AUA, a yield estimation model for organic open-field broccoli was developed in Marathon, Greece. So far, results have indicated predictions made up to 40 days prior to harvest are highly correlated with final yield, up to 82%.

The Fountas lab has developed Eden Library, a collection of plant datasets that includes data from a variety of crops, including citrus and other vegetable and specialty crops.

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Ashley Robinson

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