Research and Extension for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Applications in U.S. Agriculture and Natural Resources Grant uri icon


  • There is currently great interest in developing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) applications to benefit agricultural production and research. For this endeavor to be successful, it is essential that research and extension/education be conducted (a) to clarify requirements related to data quality and quantity, (b) to discover and develop common practices and methodologies that are consistently useful for a given crop, and (c) to discover and make known capabilities and limitations related to detection of stresses in crops with UAS remote sensing. Determining appropriate data resolutions for UAS-data collection is of particular importance for accuracy, usefulness, and efficiency. Optimal resolutions vary by application and can differ by region and production practice. Key factors that need to be identified include spatial resolution, spectral bands, timing and re-visit, and post-processing necessary to produce answers within an acceptable timeframe for a decision by a producer.Currently, practical applications for producers and service providers are limited. A wide range of platforms and sensors are available, but utility is not well documented in research literature; at the same time, the rapid pace of UAS development provides new opportunities and challenges for testing, calibration, and validation of these systems. Cost-effective, crop-specific processes and workflows that are robust across regions must be identified, tested, and evaluated for their ability to enable decision making in production agriculture. It would be extremely valuable to agricultural producers and natural resource managers if UAS methods were available for identifying specific causal agents of plant stress, rather than just confirming its existence. A great deal of research is needed to determine stress-detection effectiveness of current and developing sensor technology as it is used from the UAS platform. Finally, there is a need to increase capacity and materials for the transfer of critical information and developments to the agricultural production, crop improvement, and natural resources communities. Potential users need a better understanding of the capabilities of modern UAS platforms and the sensors they carry, as well as how to effectively apply these to specific applications. At the same time, extension and outreach educators need a better understanding of what information is required and how best to facilitate information to constituent groups they serve

date/time interval

  • 2019 - 2021