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Drones show promise spotting pests in potatoes

Image result for drone agricultureIn the April 2016 issue of Spudman magazine, Donna Delparte, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University (ISU) in Pocatello, spoke about her research into using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, for pest management in potatoes. “They are very much the future, especially when we’re working on trying to expand the technology and look at new and novel ways to use UAV, such as crop-invasive species,” Delparte said. Recently, at this year’s Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello, Jan. 16-18, Delparte gave growers an update on the status of her work, specifically on using an unmanned aerial vehicle to spot PVY infected plants and to record their specific locations for later control measures. In short, the technology works, but while it’s getting closer to being ready for the market, a few challenges still exist. Delparte said her team is conducting more trials and looking at building their own camera that could detect PVY but not carry the $50,000 price tag that a full, hyperspectral camera does. More