Rothamsted Research is investing in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to monitor crops and crop experiments as part of its genetic improvement projects.
The research centre, based in Hertfordshire, has obtained the high-performance radio remote-controlled “Octocopter” drone equipped with four distinct cameras.
The custom-built equipment will enable data collection from experimental crop plots at each of the institute’s UK sites as well as at trial sites by collaborating organisations.
Collection of data with this method will give unique perspectives on crop growth and plant functioning. It will vastly extend capabilities for screening crops of different genetic background for performance, nutrition, stress, pathogen and disease responses.
The UAV, which was funded by a £25,000 grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council(BBSRC), is powered by a standard eight-rotor battery-powered unmanned aerial vehicle, as typically used in the film industry.
This is the first time a UK agricultural research organisation has obtained an UAV equipped to this standard.