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Low Energy Precision (/Spray) Applications: Unmanned Aerial System based Rapid Evaluation for Crop and Site Specific System Adaptation in the Pacific Northwest

Funding Agency: WRC State of Washington
Investigators: Lav Khot, R. Troy Peters (WSU team) and Howard Neibling


Water inevitably is the most valuable resource of the western states and is foundation for billion-dollar agricultural industry. Keeping in view the preset situation of water and future needs under changing climate, growers need to adopt new/improved irrigation technologies, like Low Elevation Spray/Precision Application (LESA/LEPA). Such technologies have grower adoption concerns related to water use efficiencies as the canopy and air temperature driven evapotranspiration effects are unknown. This project thus focused on evaluating LESA and MESA irrigated corn and mint (spearmint and peppermint) crop using small unmanned aerial system integrated multispectral and thermal imaging techniques. Imagery was acquired throughout the season at various crop growth stages to understand canopy vigor and temperature differences. In corn production, MESA had more crop vigor and a cooler canopy than LESA. Results were anticipated, as the sprinkler heads used in LESA were being pulled off, causing the weighted hose to damage the corn. In mint production, LESA irrigated canopies were vigorous and cooler compared to MESA. Overall, studies showed promising results on suitable use of the high resolution remote sensing technology in evaluate those irrigation techniques for site- and crop specific adaptation.