By: Dillon Blythe, Agronomist
As planting starts to wrap up, much of our attention is focused on scouting fields. We have always firmly believed scouting is a crucial part of maintaining and maximizing crop health. Although we are vigilant on scouting, the human eye can’t detect stress until it is in a more advanced stage. To take more of a proactive approach on detecting problems early on, we have added a DJI Phantom drone to our scouting arsenal.
Our drone is equipped with Sentara’s crop health imagery cameras that captures NIR (near infra-red) and NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) imagery. We can then evaluate this collection of images as whole field health maps. This helps us identify specific areas that are starting to experience stress. It is known that once signs of stress are visible to the human eye, yield is being compromised. Early detection will assist our agronomists in making more appropriate and timely management recommendations.
As management is applied throughout the season, we can continue to follow up on foot and in air, to see how health is progressing. This data will become very useful as we log what products were effective in specific scenarios, and which ones we need to swap out next time.
Of course, this drone is an additional source of information, not an alternative to traditional ground scouting methods. Nor will it ever replace a knowledgeable agronomist or a progressive grower. This bird’s eye, early detection technology will be an extremely valuable tool to provide more insight to our growers. We are excited to integrate this technology to better help you reach your crop health goals.