Agricultural inputs such as water, nutrients, seed and chemicals are commonly applied at a fixed rate across a field, creating areas of under- and over-application that reduce farm productivity, profitability and environmental stewardship. The site-specific crop management team at UGA IIPA works to improve the precision and accuracy of spatially varying crop requirements. We study two components of variable rate technology: sensor systems and algorithm development.
Sensors used in our research include proximal (ground) and remote (UAV and satellite) optical RGB, multispectral, hyperspectral, thermal and LiDAR utilized for crop sensing; and in-situ moisture, temperature and salinity devices utilized for soil sensing. Data from multiple sensors, yield maps and weather are combined to assess crop health and yield limiting factors and develop algorithms that translate sensor data into actionable variable rate prescriptions.
Prescriptions from different sensors and algorithms are then benchmarked in relation to producer traditional practices, and continuously improved as more data is collected. We work to develop algorithms for water, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, lime, seed, plant growth regulator, defoliant, and pesticide site-specific management in multiple cropping systems that include cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans, pasture and forages.
Through these efforts, we aim to develop, test and deploy technologies that are easily adopted by producers, optimize input use efficiency, and promote profitable, resilient and sustainable farm operations.