Using drone imagery to help understand farm performance

Using drone imagery to help understand farm performance

Collecting aerial imagery using drones allows you to have a new perspective of your farm. Seeing your fields and buildings from above, in much higher resolution than satellite imagery, allows you to see the big picture so that you can spot issues and map where things are.

On fieldmargin it is easy to add drone imagery using our DroneDeploy integration or Map Uploader. Here are some of our suggestions of how you can make the most of drone imagery on your farm.

Identify problem areas

Drone image of field marked up with areas to go and ground truth
Drone image of field amended with areas to investigate

The high resolution of drone imagery makes it perfect for finding problems in your fields with a high degree of accuracy – even down to the plant level in the case of vegetables, trees and vines! Although you might not be able to identify exact cause from above this provides areas to ground truth, resulting in much more efficient crop walks. 

Make notes to record areas for investigation, treatment or to keep an eye on and see how they perform over the season. Some problems you might record are:

Weeds

Drone image of field with patch of weeds
Areas with high weed pressure, such as this one in a poorly drained patch, are particularly easy to see in the drought-stressed crop

Identify areas with a high level of weeds so that these can be focused on if you are doing variable rate spraying and look for patterns in areas with high weed burdens that could indicate spray misses or contamination from poorly cleaned machinery.

Nutrient deficiencies and pest damage

Drone image of field with rabbit grazing
Extensive rabbit damage

Variations in colour and plant density can help to spot areas with nutrient deficiencies and pest damage. These can then be inspected and tissue/soil tests taken to identify any micro-nutrients that are lacking.

Compaction

Drone image of field with compaction
Areas of poor emergence that could be the result of compaction or water-logging

Spot areas of poor emergence that could indicate compaction so that these can be sub-soiled.

Crop health analysis

Plant health map
An example of a colourised plant health map made using DroneDeploy

Software such as DroneDeploy is able to take drone imagery and process it using plant health algorithms such as NDVI and VARI to highlight variability, making it easier to spot differences in performance. Learn more.

Track changes in fields over time

Your imported drone maps appear on your field history in chronological order so you can track performance over time interspersed with the work that was done so that you can see the effect your treatments or issues that you observed had.

Create more accurate maps

This is particularly useful where you have made changes to your farm such as moving field boundaries or new buildings that are not available on recent satellite imagery or to find features such as land drains that are not easy to find on the ground. This information can be recorded in fieldmargin using features to provide you with a much more detailed and accurate map.

Cross reference with other mapping data

Drone image overlaid with yield map

Drone map overlaid with yield map – see how the areas with lower yields (green) match with the patches of poor emergence

You can add many types of maps to fieldmargin using our map uploader tool. For example yield maps or old drainage maps. You can overlay your drone maps with these to help identify the causes of problems in your fields or see if problems you have seen are having an impact on yield. Read more

Farm building inspections

Grain store with rust damage
Grain store roof with rust damage

Seeing buildings from above allows you to spot and repair problems with roofing before you start seeing water coming through your ceiling. DroneDeploy has a Roof Inspection tool as part of its premium plan to generate 3D models of your roofs. Tell me more.


Interested in knowing more about using drone imagery on your farm and our DroneDeploy integration? Fill in your details here and we will be in touch with further information.

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