Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for crop monitoring

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) will soon use an unmanned aerial vehicle for monitoring crops across the State. The TNAU has floated a tender to purchase the UAV at Rs. 24 lakh.

Department of Remote Sensing and GIS would use the UAV to monitor crops from sowing to harvest. By adding sensors to the UAV, the Department would also able to monitor the crop health, its water requirement or the need for intervention.

Satellite image data The Department at present used satellite image data for the purpose but the issue was that the revisit period was 18 days - that is it got the latest image only once in 18 days or so after the satellite passed over the region. And during monsoon season, it was of little help because of overcast sky.

The UAV would help tide over the crisis in that the TNAU could use the vehicle as and when it wanted to study crops. The vehicle would have a 10-km flying radius and an altitude of 100 m to a km (1,000 m). The only problem could be that it would not be able to launch the vehicle during heavy winds.

Using optical and thermal sensors attached to the UAV, the TNAU would study the crop health depending on the colour in images. It would also study the water availability in the region and moisture in crops.

The secondary application would be using the UAV for spraying fertilisers or pesticides or carry out other tasks but at present it was not on the TNAU’s objectives.

In countries with advanced agriculture technology, farmers also used the UAV for advanced crop management or precision farming.

The University had planned to purchase the vehicle with its fund and use across the State. It had specified in the tender condition that it should weigh less than 10 kg, be able to launch it from hands. It had asked the manufacturer or supplier to train its staff for three days and offer maintenance support for three years.

Source : http://www.thehindu.com/