A UF/IFAS researcher is working on drone-based agtech that could save citrus growers a lot of time and money.

Florida citrus growers dealing with  the issues caused by citrus greening are looking to save money anywhere they can. The latest developments in drone-based agtech by a UF/IFAS researcher could be an excellent option for Florida citrus growers to save both time and money, according to a UF/IFAS blog posting. Explore the details below.

Drone-Based AgTech

UF/IFAS researcher Yiannis Ampatzidis, who works at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee and is a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, and his team have developed drone-based agtech that features a camera affixed to a drone and a cloud-based system known as Agroview. The drone flies over the grove while the camera records images. They are uploaded to Agroview, which scans the images to count trees and measure the canopy. According to the blog, the set-up had an accuracy rating of nearly 98 percent at a trial run at a commercial citrus farm in Hendry County.

Citrus growers have had to manually count citrus trees, a time-consuming cost. Ampatzidis envisions a drone, camera, and and Agroview taking over this task. “We estimate the traditional tree-count procedure can cost around $14 per acre and take up to four weeks to cover 1,000 acres. The Agroview application can be used to save the Florida citrus industry — among other industries all over the word — at least 60% of the data collection cost and 90% of the data collection time,” Ampatzidis said in the blog.

According to the blog, the next steps for the research include:

  • Yield prediction models for citrus and vegetables.
  • Disease detection models for vegetables.
  • Nutrient prediction models for applications maps for variable rate technologies, for example, fertilizers and sprayers.

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