Increasing Efficiency in Agriculture

Unmanned systems help farmers to more effectively manage their crops. Unmanned ground systems can automate many agricultural tasks, increasing efficiency and cutting costs. Air systems can help to monitor or spray costs. Using air systems and advanced imaging technology, farmers can detect drought, disease or stress in crops before it is visible to the naked eye. They can use this information to more precisely target areas with fertilizers or pesticides, saving money and reducing environmental impact. 

Around the world, unmanned systems have been used for:
      • Detecting invasive species in grasslands and crops
      • Planning improvement in field drainage
      • Mapping and estimating acreage and crop types
      • Developing crop yield estimations
      • Spraying crops with fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides


University Agriculture Research

Universities around the world are studying how unmanned systems can improve agriculture. Their research covers everything from how airborne pathogens spread to the most effective way to spray vineyards.

Air Systems

Virginia Tech is using UAS to research Fusarium, a group of fungi that includes devastating pathogens of plants and animals, which shows how these microbes travel through the air. Researchers now believe that with improvements on this preliminary research, there will be a better understanding about crop security, disease spread, and climate change.

Oregon State University is using UAS to survey potato crops, investigating how different wavelengths of light my help to detect problems with the crop.

UAI International of Grand Forks, North Dakota, UA Vision of Dayton, Ohio, and the University of Dayton led Institute for the Development and Commercialization of advanced Sensor Technology (IDCAST) are teaming to develop and market UAV-based solutions for agricultural applications.

Michigan State University is using UAS to fly over agricultural fields and monitor the health of farmers’ crops. (2013)

The University of Florida is using small unmanned helicopters equipped with infrared cameras to monitor orange trees for the deadly citrus greening, a bacterial disease that kills the trees.

At University of California – Davis, professors have teamed up with Yamaha Motor Corp. USA to fly unmanned remote-controlled helicopters to spray vineyards and orchards.

Louisiana State University AgCenter researchers are trying to determine if using UAS can help farmers monitor their crops for potential problems.

The Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks uses UAS to monitor animal populations and identify mineral deposits at home and abroad.

University of Hawaii at Hilo researchers are using UAS to assess the state of the struggling wiliwili tree population. The university is the first in the state to receive official certification from the FAA to use unmanned aircraft.

Texas A&M Agri-Life Research Facility researchers are using a quadrotor UAS to track disease progressions over wheat fields, identifying areas of reduced yields, root weight, and water-use efficiency.

Ohio State UniversityAeronautics and Astronautics Research Laboratory features a variety of pilot programs for UAS technology specifically designed for agriculture. Their projects attracted 140,000 visitors from all over the country at the 2012 Farm Science Review.

Kansas State University researchers have demonstrated the use of UAS to far more accurately and efficiently locate and quantify harmful algae affecting many Kansas lakes and ponds


Ground Systems

The University of Central Florida is using ground vehicles to help find and monitor citrus diseases.  

If you or your organization is working on agricultural research using unmanned systems. Tell us here!


Researchers at the University of Florida are developing unmanned systems to help farmers detect diseases and stress in their crops using photographs and measurements produced via GPS and infrared technology. This new technology is proving particularly useful for citrus growers, allowing producers to easily detect tree health problems that aren’t visible to the human eye. These systems can also be used to provide yield estimations and manage drainage issues.