Is there middle ground in precision agriculture?


Yes. Today, a middle-ground exists between those that work the land like that of previous generations, and the large high-tech Ag corporations.  It is no longer an “all in” decision with the leap of faith, and likely, signing a multi-year contract with internationals. This middle ground emerged recently because imaging by UAV or satellite today is effective and affordable. This opened a new market to most farmers. Be assured the UAV community, with whom you deal with personally and annually, will satisfy your imaging needs without long-term contracts. If you read about ADS-B in this blog and you’re like me and do not like multiyear contracts, then remember this key point: beyond line of sight (BLOS) operations is coming. This will change the marketplace. If you have not already, perhaps consider positioning your operation to understand and make use of the vegetation index data, even if only for part of your land. It won’t be a long wait until it will be considered normal practice to image all your land at least several times each year. 

Relatively small incremental adjustments to the drainage of your land, and/or implementing a basic multispectral crop monitoring plan can make a measurable change in yield over time. UAV elevation mapping, done in spring and fall over bare earth or stubble, can effectively guide your drainage plan and help you regain productive acres lost in wetter years. Crop monitoring using vegetation indices (e.g. NDVI) is not new, and the science behind them is well understood. In Canada, we have more reason to monitor using vegetation indices now more than ever. Why? Transport Canada issued the first Special Flight Operations Certificate for spraying from a UAV in central Canada in 2017. This is a big deal. Now we can selectively spray areas for pests based on your NDVI-based scouting. Call us for details.

Dr. Paul Cooley