A few years back I wrote a blog about emerging technology of drone stand counts. At the time I was still exploring drone-based stand count technology, which has come a long way in a few short years. So let’s compare doing stand counts with a drone to traditional hand counting.
When traditionally doing stand counts, you can’t cover the entire field, so you take 15-20 counts to represent the variation in the field.
Doing 20 stand counts on a 160-acre field would represent 0.0125% of that field. Not much. So, the notion of a drone doing the counting of an entire field is exciting.
While ideal, time has been the biggest barrier to being able to use a drone to count a whole field. To fly a 160-acre field at 50 feet of elevation with enough overlap to map the entire field would require 44 batteries, with 21,415 pictures and take 11.5 hours!
To solve for this, some tech companies have started to marry traditional stand evaluation techniques with the technology. The goal is to lower the overlap, taking a single picture every acre and analyzing a single picture to determine the total stand of the spot.
With this approach you can save time and total pictures taken while gathering a lot more information when compared to boots on the ground scouting:
160 acre field = 160 pictures, each with 50 stand counts totaling 8,000 stand counts/field
This huge increase in data points helps make more informed decisions when it comes to replant situations—8,000 data points compared to around 500.
Having a visual map also shows where in the field there are stand issues so we can determine how many acres are below our stand count threshold. With drone stand counts we actually know exactly where and how many acres we should be replanting in a field.
After testing over the last two seasons, I can confirm that this technology is accurate and useful! If you are interested in learning more, please reach out. Nolan@PetersonFarmsSeed.com or (701) 282-7476.