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New techniques using high technology to grow almonds.
The California drought is no secret; it’s impact on agriculture isn’t a secret either. What if growers in that state could reduce water usage without costly innovations or placing increased demands on their staff?
CSU Fresno is partnering with AeroVironment, a company specializing in unmanned aircraft systems (otherwise known as drones). Their mission is to find out how much water stress can be picked up with aerial imagery.
As reported by Growing Produce:
“Athanasios Alexandrou is the Professor and Chairman of the Industrial Technology Department at Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agriculture. He said they are reviewing the literature to determine what levels of stress they will put on a test orchard. The location that they will be using will on campus. It will be a 35-acre block of ‘Nonpareil,’ ‘Aldrich,’ and ‘Price’ almonds.
Following a predetermined schedule, they will fly the orchard with a drone to collect imagery. Then in addition there will be a team on the ground collecting moisture levels of both the soils and the leaves. Alexandrou and his team will correlate the data and then conclude how much stress can be determined through the air.
‘The long-term goal of this kind of project is collecting and analyzing data to investigate if drones can pick up water stress without the need to do soil or leaf sampling at some point in the future,’ he says.”
Drones For Agriculture Used To Track Water For Farmers
Most noteworthy in the article is researched commentary that almonds do not use more water than other crops. Virtually all food crops need about one liter of water to produce one calorie. However, almond growers in the state are more visible because they own almost 1 million acres of farmland. Correspondingly, almonds have been getting the most attention from the citizens, media, and interest groups over the past few years. (see Nutritional Benefits of Almonds here)
The ultimate goal of the program is to use the drones to create a more efficient watering schedule. The new schedule would presumably reduce the number of days where the crops actually need to be watered to produce a successful harvest.
In conclusion, to take a look down the road at other technological innovations such as a drone can be used to improve so many areas of our lives and welfare. As Arthur C. Clarke noted, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” As a result, we may see more already automated farming technology making it’s way into our everyday lives. The use of these drones for agriculture could lead to similar drones being used safety and control in a number of other industries.
Words By Genevieve Malandra