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Drone mapping helps get all the necessary information about plant development throughout the season, which helps save time, money and resources for farmers and agronomists.

Sunflower and corn are critical crops for many producers. Caring for crops, especially sunflowers, which have hundreds of seeds on each head, requires special attention. DroneUA implemented a number of projects on the complex application of drone technologies for the study of sunflower and corn fields. With experience in precision agriculture using drones, the GIS team used PIX4Dfields to collect crop information and process data. The task — analysis of the key stages of plant development and the formation of the following reports and analytics: plant counting and quality control of the performed sowing works, creation of recommendation maps for the use of herbicides, analysis of the growing season and creation of flowering maps.

Counting of plants and quality control of completed sowing works

The first study consisted in counting the number of sunflower seedlings. Each sunflower head is important for obtaining a good harvest that will be used for the production of sunflower oil. Using drones for crop analysis pays off the investment in terms of quickly providing information that was previously unavailable.

The first survey was carried out at the beginning of June, the quality of the crop was evaluated using high-detail (GSD) maps from 1 to 2 cm/pix. This detailing allows you to identify and analyze individual plants. The data was processed using PIX4Dfields, then the analytics system developed at DroneUA was used to count vegetation with an accuracy of 80 to 90%. The exact number of sunflowers and corn in these fields was determined, which allowed the farmer to assess the quality of the seeding work performed, identify areas without seedlings and obtain an approximate value of the expected yield for planning logistics for the later period of the season.

Creation of recommendation maps for the use of herbicides

Using drone mapping to schedule herbicide applications helps prevent unnecessary field treatments and unnecessary pesticide waste. Preliminary scanning is carried out at the stage of tillering and stem growth, which for sunflower and corn falls on the second half of June. At this stage, the height of the vegetation is measured and then analyzed to determine the different stages of plant growth, as well as the number and impact of weeds.

We first processed and analyzed the data in PIX4Dfields and then performed further analysis using QGIS to create a weediness map and a herbicide recommendation map. Thus, a map of differentiated application of herbicides was created to reduce the total amount of pesticides used, leading to more ecological agricultural production.

Precise application of fertilizers

Fertilizers applied to the field can harm the environment. We returned to the field in early July to plan precision fertilizer applications for corn and sunflowers. Multispectral data were used to analyze the condition and health of agricultural crops.

The data was processed using PIX4Dfields to create a NDVI vegetation index map, sensitive to plant chlorophyll content and leaf biomass, based on a DJI P4 Multispectral camera.

The measurements were then used to create a map of zones for differentiated fertilizer application, which made it possible to optimize plant nutrition and save on the amount of fertilizer applied to the field. Working with drones and multispectral imagery, farmers save fertilizer and money, increasing ROI.

Analysis at the end of the growing season, flowering map

At the end of the growing season, sunflower heads are counted to check the stage of development and the degree of flowering. Understanding levels of flower opening can be used to plan micro-fertilizer treatments to increase plant growth. Therefore, a bloom map was created using PIX4Dfields to obtain information to plan the processing mode.

Monitoring during the growing season

Seasonal monitoring using drones and multispectral photogrammetry provided a significant return on investment, as it saved fertilizers, herbicides and time, and also showed in detail the stress level of individual sections of the field and allowed planning field surveys. Farmers can improve their planned harvest by using drone mapping to measure progress without losing time or yield.

PIX4Dfields provides key tools for processing the received data. Images from different periods during the season were used to calculate reliable index values.

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DroneUA is an international system integrator of unmanned solutions and robotics.

On the market of Ukraine and Eastern Europe, the DroneUA group of companies is the largest importer and distributor of leading drone manufacturers in the world and represents technological solutions from the brands XAG, EcoFlow, Pix4D, Parrot, Chasing, DroneDeploy, AgroCares and others.

The group of companies has its own engineering, production and service divisions, as well as an open data processing center. Technological solutions presented by DroneUA are used on more than 4 million hectares of cultivated areas of Ukraine. According to the results of the 2021 and 2022 agricultural seasons, more than 2.2 million hectares were protected with drone sprayers from DroneUA.

DroneUA is among the top three most innovative businesses in the agricultural sector of Ukraine according to FORBES and among the twenty most innovative enterprises of Ukraine.

The group of companies continues to expand the list of technological brands that it presents on the Ukrainian market, and is active in agriculture, the oil and gas industry, as well as in the fields of energy, geodesy and topography.

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