Explore the latest research into precision farming techniques for citrus production and other areas of agriculture.

In our latest column in Central Florida Ag News, we shared about the latest research projects on applying precision farming techniques to citrus and more. The information was shared at the 2020 Citrus Show by Dr. Yiannis Ampatzidis, an Assistant Professor leading research and extension precision agriculture engineering program in the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in Immokalee. See the highlights below.

Using Precision Farming Techniques

Ampatzidis shared how the different research projects are utilizing the techniques of precision farming—using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, also referred to as drones—to collect data and then using cloud-based software to make the data useful by processing that data, analyzing it, and creating a way to visualize it.

The team is utilizing technology such as thermal cameras, Multi-Spectral imaging, Visual – RGB, and LiDAR (3-D laser scanning) coupled with drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to conduct their research. According to Ampatzidis’s presentation, the research is taking advantage of AI and a deep learning algorithm, and then using existing neural networks such as alexnet and googlenet to “train them to identify and detect objects according to our requirements.”

For instance, one neural network is being trained to detect and identify citrus flowers, leaves, and fruit, and then categorizing those things as either “healthy” or “unhealthy.” Once identifications and categorizations are made, a map can be created that represents the health of the entire grove down to each individual tree. Ampatzidis maintained in the presentation that they are planning on utilizing similar technology, but on equipment like harvesters and weed blasters, to improve fruit harvesting and weed elimination.

The data collected can be sorted into a visual representation, from maps to graphs, so that citrus growers can identify healthy or unhealthy trees, areas of the grove that are underproducing, the presence of pests, and more.

All of these projects are aimed at achieving the same end result: taking money- and time-consuming tasks that citrus growers have heretofore had to complete by hand, and letting UAVs, AI, and software do the hard and tedious work instead!

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.