Part of: Nutrient Management

Area of Expertise:

AFBI scientists have pioneered the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technology in agri-environmental research in Northern Ireland. The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, aka drones) in research is a logical extension of this work. These technologically sophisticated (though relatively inexpensive) devices largely overcome the limitations of acquiring remotely sensed imagery in regions prone to cloud cover such as Northern Ireland.

Research projects

AFBI have a number of pending research projects where the UAV will be used.  One area where the full potential of the UAV will be utilized is looking at spatial variation in biomass production.  Here the ability of the UAV to fly in a wide range of weather conditions mean that a crop can be monitored at various times through the growth cycle.  The generation of a high resolution accurate digital elevation model (DEM) means that crop growth (biomass production) can be estimated with high spatial accuracy throughout the observed area. Drone

The Agri-Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ document sets ambitious growth targets for the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.  In order to achieve both this target and the commitment to sustainable growth, significant use of precision agriculture technology will have to be made.  The generation of accurate yield maps for grassland is the key step in the development of Precision Agriculture in the forage dominated agricultural sector of Northern Ireland, and delivery of these maps by UAV sourced imagery is the key step in moving this area forward.

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