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Islander Researchers Show How Drones Revolutionize Agriculture at First Annual UAS in Ag Field Day

June 22, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Island University professors joined several other Texas A&M University System professionals at the first annual UAS in Ag Field Day on June 13 to demonstrate how the innovation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has revolutionized the field of precision agriculture. Eighty people journeyed to the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Robstown to learn more about this exciting application of UAS technology.

The goal of precision agriculture is to efficiently use a farm’s resources for maximum results. The topics on how drones assist this goal included platform design, sensor selection, software development, visualization and analysis, interpretation and development of applications for solving specific problems.

“Drones are revolutionizing precision agriculture by allowing a rapid and more comprehensive response to crop management. This results in better management of crops and higher productivity,” said Dr. Joe Fox, a Professor in the Department of Life Sciences at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a Researcher with AgriLife Research. “This is extremely important for human food security for the future.”

A practical demonstration of UAS based technology for precision farming was given by Dr. Jihna Jung and Dr. Michael Starek, both professors in the College of Science and Engineering at A&M-Corpus Christi later in the day. The demonstration walked students through the practical process of preparing a flight plan, flying both multi-rotor and fixed-wing drones, processing data and understanding how to interpret imagery.   

“The research and technology associated with the use of UAS in precision farming is truly cutting-edge and multi-disciplinary in nature requiring engineering, geospatial, computer and agricultural sciences," said Fox. "It represents the perfect union of TAMU-CC and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. This area of study will translate into long-term research opportunities for students and faculty for many years to come."

The first annual UAS in Ag Field Day was made possible due to funding from the USDA Hispanic Serving Institutions Grants Program and the following participating groups: A&M-Corpus Christi, Del Mar College, The Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation (LSUASC), Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas State Technical College-Harlingen and The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

For more information about the A&M-Corpus Christi’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Program, go to sci.tamucc.edu/ENGR/uas.html. To learn more about the LSUASC, go to lsuasc.tamucc.edu.