Back almost a lifetime ago I remember my dad who was a farmer, walking the paddocks and driving around firebreaks checking crops, this practice was to assess the plants for disease, insect infestation, weeds and any deficiencies. Like many farmers my father was excellent at detecting plant issues and he used this information to determine a course of action for applications such as spraying and fertilizer.
The fact is Ground truthing is an invaluable practice or skill in crop management but just like an iceberg you are only seeing a small part of the story.
As drones are becoming more capable and cheaper it absolutely makes sense to use drones to scout crops, with drone scouting you can spot thinning, different colorations in the plants and even weeds, But! Because you are relying on human manual diagnostics you may miss something.
The great thing about multispectral drone mapping is its fully automated and involves taking hundreds to thousands of high res photos making it hard to miss anything! The other great thing with index maps is they are very definitive: Green means Healthy, Orange means Stressed and red means dead or inanimate.
With index maps you can pinpoint problem areas and because the images are geotagged you can utilize the GPS capability in mobile devices to locate the exact spot whilst walking the field or driving around the paddocks.
My father was a 4th generation farmer who grew up in the 60’s and although a lot of farming practices have evolved since then, still the act of walking the paddock is one of the simplest and most effective ways to determine crop health. The fact is nobody knows your paddocks as well as you do, you can visually see thick or thin parts leading up to and during harvest, Drone mapping can not only confirm what you are seeing but also what you aren’t seeing from the ground.
Whether you have the latest tech and machinery or are more traditional, plant index data can help visualize the overall health of a paddock and allow the possibility to concentrate on the problem areas instead of the whole crop.
The brilliant thing is with consistent drone mapping season after season it adds an element of Precision farming and yield mapping to traditional crop management at a fraction of the cost.
Over 15 years ago when I lived on a farm I could see the potential of precision farming and yield mapping, it gives a farmer the ability to plan and predict based on data from the previous season and to make decisions after the fact. One of the biggest advantages of drone plant mapping is you can get a snapshot of crop health anytime of the year, and you can fly the same paddock again shortly after a remedy such as spraying or fertiliser is applied to see the result.
Another use of plant index maps is it can be used in combination with yield mapping as a data overlay to help confirm which parts of the paddock are performing well and not so well.
The fact is combining drone plant mapping with precision farming and yield mapping can help save time and money by concentrating on troubled areas instead of the entire paddock. using all these brilliant technologies along with ground truthing can be a winning combination not only for the end of season but all year round.
For more information on plant mapping or any other of our services checkout our website, or on Facebook and you can also download our free info guide on plant mapping.
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