Drone Photos Help Growers Manage Weeds

Jaci Schreckengost Technology, Top Posts

To help Florida vegetable and specialty crop growers ensure their weed management programs are efficient, researchers have created an easier way to examine weeds.

Ramdas Kanissery, assistant professor at the University of Florida’s (UF) Horticultural Sciences Department at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, said drones have become essential tools to help growers improve their herbicide use. Kanissery said his job is to create projects that add to and improve weed management options for growers.

Since going out in larger productions to physically look at the weed management could cost the grower time and money that could be better used elsewhere, growers now have the ability to use drones to fly over their fields. This is beneficial to many growers, especially tomato and cucumber growers near Immokalee, because of the size of their production systems, Kanissery said.

Drones take photos of the fields, allowing growers to see how well their current herbicide plans are working. Growers can then keep or alter their weed management plans, depending on the levels of weeds in the fields.

According to Kanissery, drones also help growers test different herbicides and compare the results more easily than before. This allows time and money to be saved by shortening the time spent out in the field examining which herbicide is most effective.

Kanissery, in collaboration with other UF researchers, is developing a color index that allows growers to see the effectiveness of their herbicide applications. The index shows if the herbicide is killing the weeds in the field or not, based on the colors seen from the photos taken by the drones.

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