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UAV application for precision agriculture

Rafal Perz (The Institute of Aeronautics and Applied Mechanics, Warsaw University of Technology, Warszawa, Poland)
Kacper Wronowski (The Institute of Aeronautics and Applied Mechanics, Warsaw University of Technology, Warszawa, Poland)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 8 October 2018

Issue publication date: 6 March 2019

1159

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to show the potentials of a cost-effective unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) system for agriculture industry. The current population growth rate is so vast that farming industry must be highly efficient and optimized. As a response for high quality food demands, the new branch of the agriculture industry has been formed – the precision agriculture. It supports farming process with sensors, automation and innovative technologies. The UAV advantages over regular aviation are withering. Not only they can fly at lower altitude and are more precise but also offer same high quality and are much cheaper.

Design/methodology/approach

The main objective of this project was to implement an exemplary cost-effective UAV system with electronic camera stabilizer for gaining useful data for agriculture. The system was based on small, unmanned flying wing able to perform fully autonomous missions, a commercially available camera and an own-design camera stabilizer. The research plan was to integrate the platform and run numerous experimental flights over farms, fields and woods collecting aerial pictures. All the missions have been planned to serve for local farming and forest industries and cooperated with local business authorities.

Findings

In preliminary flight tests, the variety of geodetic, forest and agriculture data have been acquired, placed for post processing and applied for the farming processes. The results of the research were high quality orthophoto maps, 3D maps, digital surface models and images mosaics with normalized difference vegetation index. The end users were astonished with the high-quality results and claimed the high importance for their business.

Originality/value

The case study results proved that this kind of a small UAV system is exceptional to manage and optimize processes at innovative farms. So far only professional, high-cost UAV platforms or traditional airships have been applied for agriculture industry. This paper shows that even simple, commercially available equipment could be used for professional applications.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Lockheed Martin Co. which was the sponsor of this research.

Citation

Perz, R. and Wronowski, K. (2018), "UAV application for precision agriculture", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 91 No. 2, pp. 257-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/AEAT-01-2018-0056

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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