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Drone technology reaches new heights at SDSU


VOLGA, S.D. (KELO)– At South Dakota State University, the use of drones is not a new concept. However, the curriculum is growing, and researchers are working on ways to collect more data sooner so that the data can be used by farmers to assess things like crop diseases, water stress, nutrient deficiency and more.

“It’s kind of very exciting because normally we use moderate resolution or like low resolution satellite data so you can not see too much of the data quality is not that good, but with the drone you can really collect very good spatial resolution data,” Ph. D student Shahid Nawaz Khan said.

“I think this is like very important for precision agriculture, like farmers, producers, trying to apply at a specific amount of for example nutrients or chemical spreads for disease or pest control at specific locations, at specific times, to reduce the costs of those management practices or chemical spreads or those nutrients,” said Maitiniyazi Maimaitijiang, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Geospatial Sciences.

Ag tech companies do provide farmers with services like these via satellite, but it takes time to get that information to farmers.

“There’s a lot of challenges with the accuracy of these maps, how early can they provide this. Maybe these maps collected were generated weeks ago, but maybe after two or three weeks all that data changes a lot,” said Maimaitijiang.

Once SDSU completes the research, they are hoping to create a way to get the drone maps to farmers in a timely manner.

“It’s important in the context that they can increase their yield, they can save their crops from further diseases or something. Like they can intervene at the stage where it is really important they can save their crop from those kinds of things,” said Khan.

A concept researchers believe is not far away.

“I think it’s not that far for this to become common in use for farmers,” said Khan.

This technology will not only be useful for farmers, but crop breeders, too.



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