BY BRAD HAIRE
Farm Press Editorial Staff
unMAnneD AeRIAl SYSTeMS technology is
getting more affordable and appealing for use
on farms, as well as in agronomic research to
collect useful crop data and as a means to turn
that information into an actionable plan to
improve crop production.
David W. Daughtry, university of Georgia
graduate research assistant who works with Dr.
Wesley Porter, uGA extension irrigation specialist,
and Dr. Glen harris, uGA extension crop fertility
specialist, is a licensed drone pilot. he uses the
technology to collect research data from uGA
crop trials at the Sunbelt Ag expo Darrel Williams
In question-and-answer session, Daughtry
talks about the technology and how it is used
at expo and on Georgia farms.
but first, let’s define a couple of terms:
unmanned Aerial Systems, also called uAS,
consist of an unmanned aerial vehicle (uAV,
or drone), a control system, the sensors on the
uAV, the software used to post-process the data,
and the information that can be gained from
For what purposes do you use drone technology at Expo?
We have been using unmanned aerial
systems in our cotton fertility research here. My
research project is focused on correlating various
nutrient levels in both cotton and corn with data
collected by the uAS. We are currently looking at
nitrogen rates and n, P, K, S, and micronutrient
deficiency/sufficiency detection methods.
What can this tool offer agronomic crop
uAS provide a method for collecting large
amounts of data rapidly in our research trials.
We are continually learning about the information that can be obtained out of uAS data.
Additionally, it allows us to have data that have
high temporal and spatial resolution that can
be stored indefinitely. These data can include
multitudes of information, such as fertility, estimations of crop stands, potential for disease
detection, and irrigation scheduling.
Is drone technology making its way to
farms in the Southeast and in Georgia?
We have seen a significant increase in the
number of growers and county agents who are
interested in using uAS technology in Georgia.
This is partly due to the rapid growth of uAS
production, and advancements in technology.
This year, we hosted two separate uAS trainings for uGA extension agents — one at Tifton
in south Georgia, and another at Watkinsville in
northeast Georgia. Our research team is focused
on providing scientific results to support the
use and verification of actionable information
obtained by uAS, specifically as it relates to
practices in Georgia. At this point, we are seeing
uAS mainly being used on the farm as a scouting tool, using mainly the RGb camera to take
photos and videos.
What tips or recommendations can you give
a farmer or consultant who might be think-
ing about investing in the technology?
This depends on what the end user wants
to achieve. There are a multitude of uAS avail-
able, ranging in price from $300 to just over
$1,000, that will do a very good job using an
RGb camera. This would mainly be used for
There is uAS available that collect multi-
spectral data, which can be used to develop
vegetative index maps such as nDVI. The usage
of these is up to the individual user.
basically, the type of system an end user
wants to purchase depends on what they
would like to use it for. If it is general scouting,
then a cheaper system is sufficient, but if they
are wanting to do more advanced work, a more
advanced system may be desired.
Drones collect valuable expo crop
data and create on-farm interest
Data from drones can include a multitude of
information, such as fertility, estimations of
crop stands, potential for disease detection,
irrigation scheduling, etc.—Artwork:
BY LAURA LEE WILLIAMS
lAST YeAR Sunbelt Ag expo cut the ribbon to
dedicate the new R. W. Griffin building, located
in the center of the expo grounds.
The facility’s stage was used to announce
the 2017 Southeastern hay Contest awards
recognition, and hosted the unveiling of the
new Georgia equine tag. It was also where
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary
black announced the “Georgia Grown, Georgia
Sewn” program, and it was in the spotlight
during the farm bill listening session with Rep.
Austin Scott, R-Ga.
The R. W. Griffin building has blessed the
expo with a prominent stage that will continue
to host impressive speakers, important news
events, and exciting vendors for years to come.
This year’s highlights will include the kickoff of
the 2018 Sunbelt Ag expo, the retirement of
the 41-year-old expo logo, and the release of
the new expo image, along with many special
guest appearances, the announcement of the
2018 hay Contest awards, the presentation
of the first ever Youth educational Challenge
event awards, and much more.
As you visit with vendors in the building,
you might get to watch this year’s special event:
Youth educational Challenges. Five of the six
challenges will take place in the building.
besides being gracious hosts for special
expo happenings, R. W. Griffin is also the Offi-
cial Fertilizer Partner of Sunbelt Ag expo. The
R. W. Griffin website notes that the business
has grown from one location in Douglas to
18 retail locations today, plus two cotton gins,
several major liquid terminals, a major liquid
manufacturing operation, bulk storage ware-
houses, and several peanut facilities and grain
“We are humbled by all the support indus-
try leaders and businesses provide to the expo,”
says becca Turner, vice president of marketing
and public relations for Sunbelt Ag expo. ” We
are especially grateful for the continued com-
mitment that R.W. Griffin has made to the expo
organization and its mission.”
R.W. Griffin partnership fosters expo Success