How Drone Advancements Can Help Citrus Growers in the Field

How Drone Advancements Can Help Citrus Growers in the Field

Florida citrus growers have a lot on their plates these days, but recent research from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) shows that drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), can make some of those tasks more efficient.

The research shows thus far that drones can accurately detect and count citrus trees— and recognize and count empty spaces— in the grove, according to Yiannis Ampatzidis, who is both a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering and a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, Florida. This would save Florida citrus growers significant time and labor hours.

Researchers used drones fitted with an imaging mechanism to fly over citrus groves and count both the number of citrus trees and gaps left by trees removed. The results were much more accurate than currently available drone-based methods. “We flew in a field with about 5,000 trees and failed to detect only eight to 10 trees,” Ampatzidis said, and other methods failed to detect around 500 trees, according to the blog.

Other potential benefits that drones could also present include:
Detecting the health status of the citrus trees
Evaluating citrus varieties and rootstocks by detecting tree traits
Diagnosing heat stress and pest diseases, like citrus greening
Collecting data about traits such as tree size and height

Here at Griffin Fertilizer, we understand that growing our food and fiber takes a lot of planning, training, and resources—and that includes agritechnology such as drones. We are a full-service dry and liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection products distributor. If you have questions about how your crop or grove can perform at its best, our team is here to help. You can contact us at 863-635-2281 or visit our website at GriffinFertilizer.com.

This column is sponsored by Griffin Fertilizer Co., and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.

Mike Roberts is the Vice President of the Frostproof, Fla.-based Griffin Fertilizer Co. Roberts joined the company in November 2011. He has spent the majority of his career in the fertilizer/agchem industry. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in citrus production from Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For more information, visit griffinfertilizer.com.