UNH researchers deploy drones for orchard management

Top PhotoA University of New Hampshire plant pathologist and his doctoral student are using a remote-controlled helicopter to help apple farmers in the Northeast battle the persistent scourge of apple scab.

Kirk Broders, assistant professor of plant pathology, and Ph.D. student Matt Wallhead are working to bring precision agriculture to orchard management in the Northeast by developing a low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone. With a camera loaded with GPS and infrared technology, the UAV can “see” pests, nutrient stress or early infections caused by the apple scab fungus.

“You and I can only see a small percentage of the light spectrum,” Broders said. “We see chlorophyll as green, but it can also be seen as red at different wavelengths.”

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