Explore the benefits of using UAV scouting in citrus production for Florida citrus growers.
There are many benefits to using an Unmanned Arial Vehicle, or UAV scouting in citrus production, according to a Citrus Industry article authored by Yiannis Ampatzidis and Tara Wade, both of whom are assistant professors at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee. See the details below.
Benefits of UAV Scouting in Citrus
According to the article, “Precise and early detection of pests and diseases can reduce spray costs, scouting labor costs and possible fruit losses caused by pests and diseases.” While the cost of UAVs, also called drones, has gone down, and user-friendly apps like Agroview have increased what growers can do with UAVs, the article does maintain that “the extent to which this is offset by the increased cost of specialized labor or consultants needed to operate UAVs and interpret information needs to be carefully examined by each operation.”
However, UAV scouting can achieve many things. According to the article, “This application can measure tree inventory, health and fertility by:
- Detecting, counting and geo-locating trees and tree gaps (locations with dead or no trees)
- Measuring tree height and canopy size
- Developing tree health (or stress) maps
- Estimating plant nutrient content and developing fertility maps”
The article even cites a scenario involving new USDA insurance policy requirements that include an accurate tree inventory that can cost $12 to $24 per acre to complete using traditional methods, but a UAV and Agroview application “can create accurate tree inventories in a short time and save the Florida citrus industry at least 50 percent of the data collection cost and 90 percent of the data collection time.”
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