Potential for commercial unmanned aerial vehicle use in wild blueberry production

D.C. Percival, D. Gallant, T. Harrington, G. Brown
Recent advancements in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and associated imagery technologies have resulted in the use of these and other precision agriculture technologies throughout the agricultural sector. To assess the potential impact of UAV technologies efforts were made to identify a suitable UAV system for wild blueberry production and to evaluate its ability to estimate topographical features, blueberry coverage, pest pressures and berry yields. Trimble Navigation's UX5 system was selected due to its image quality, data accuracy, operating ruggedness, versatility and automated data processing capabilities. The UAV and associated GIS technologies examined resulted the provision of: (i) improvements in field boundaries; (ii) identification of blueberry coverage and bare spots; and (iii) generation of topographical maps being obtained in an accurate, precise and efficient manner. The UX5 system was also able to easily document equipment operator challenges and also appeared to have pest scouting potential with goldenrod pressures being easily identified. However, use of the UX5 or similar UAV systems requires pilot training and certification, regulation compliance and expertise with data acquisition, processing and analysis. Despite these challenges, these emerging technologies have the potential to significantly improve field assessment for plant and pest related factors, reduce agrochemical usage, decrease the cost of production and improve the overall sustainability of the wild blueberry production system.
Percival, D.C., Gallant, D., Harrington, T. and Brown, G. (2017). Potential for commercial unmanned aerial vehicle use in wild blueberry production. Acta Hortic. 1180, 233-240
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1180.31
remote sensing, UX5, field assessment, pest monitoring, Vaccinium angustifolium Ait

Acta Horticulturae