Agricultural University drone to monitor crops, soil condition

By Times Of India on 03 May 2018
COIMBATORE: The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) has purchased a drone to monitor soil moisture and the health of crops.
The plan to use drones to examine and assess crops and soil was floated last September. A trial was conducted on Wednesday, TNAU sources said.

The drone has two cameras – multispectral camera and thermal vision camera. “The multispectral camera would work in five colour bands and would be used to monitor the health of crops, while the thermal vision camera would be used to monitor soil moisture,” a TNAU official said. The cameras can be used to monitor any vegetation.

The university had been using satellite images to monitor and assess crops. But, the images are not effective when there is cloud cover. “In such scenarios, drones come in handy as they can be made to fly in lower altitudes,” the official said.

“Also, satellite images can be accessed only every 10 to 12 days, but drones can be used when a necessity arises. They would also give clear visibility of vegetation,” he told TOI.

While the drone can be operated at a maximum height of 1km, they would optimally operate it at a height of 400m, a professor said. “The drone has an operating range of 10km and the run time is 30 to 40 minutes. After that, it’s battery had to be re-equipped,” he said.

“We would use the drone based on necessity. If there is a calamity in a village, we would use it to assess the immediate losses. It would mainly be used for scientific purposes,” the professor added

The university would start using the drone real-time in two weeks.