Drones And Gardening: Information On Using Drones In The Garden
There’s been a lot of debate about the use of drones sincetheir appearance on the market. While in some cases their use is questionable,there is no doubt that drones and gardening are a match made in heaven, atleast for commercial farmers. What can using drones in the garden help with?The following article contains information on gardening with drones, how to usedrones for gardening, and other interesting facts about these gardenquadcopters.
What is a Garden Quadcopter?
A garden quadcopter is an unmanned drone somewhat like amini-helicopter but with four rotors. It flies autonomously and can becontrolled with a smartphone. They go by various names, including but notlimited to quadrotor, UAV and drone.
The price of these units has dropped considerably, whichprobably accounts for their varied uses from photography and video uses topolice or military engagements, disaster management and, yes, even gardeningwith drones.
About Drones and Gardening
In the Netherlands, famous for its flowers, researchers havebeen using self-navigating drones to pollinate flowers in greenhouses. Thestudy is called the Autonomous Pollination and Imaging System (APIS) and uses agarden quadcopter to aid in pollinating crops, such as tomatoes.
The drone seeks out flowers and shoots a jet of air thatvibrates the branch the flower is on, essentially pollinating the flower. Thedrone then takes a picture of the blooms to capture the moment of pollination. Prettycool, huh?
Pollination is one method for using drones in the garden.Scientists at Texas A&M have been using drones since 2015 to “read theweeds.” They use garden quadcopters which have a better ability to hover nearthe ground and execute precise moves. This ability to fly low and take highresolution images allows researchers to pinpoint weeds when they are small andtreatable, making weed management easier, more precise and less expensive.
Farmers are also using drones in the garden, or ratherfield, to keep an eye on their crops. This reduces the time it takes to managenot only weeds, but pests, diseases, and irrigation.
How to Use Drones for Gardening
While all of these uses for drones in the garden isfascinating, the average gardener doesn’t really need a time-saving device tomanage a smaller garden, so what use do drones have for a standard garden on asmaller scale?
Well, for one thing, they’re fun and prices have droppedconsiderably, making garden quadcopters accessible to more people. Using dronesin the garden on a regular schedule and noting trends can help with futuregarden plants. It can tell you if certain areas are lacking irrigation or if acertain crop seems to thrive in one area over another.
Basically, using drones in the garden is like a high-techgarden diary. Many home gardeners keepa garden journal anyway and using drones in the garden is just an extension,plus you get beautiful pictures to combine with other pertinent data.
MSU Extension Gardening in Michigan
Learn about various backyard fruit and important practices for a successful fruit harvest.
A high intensity apple production system. Photo by Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension.
Do you have visions of fresh strawberries, apples or blueberries? Are you thinking of incorporating some fruit within your landscape or garden area? Would you like to learn what it takes to successfully grow fruit in your yard? If so, now is the time to register for a new Michigan State University Extension webinar series, Backyard Fruit 101: An Introduction to Growing Your Own Fruit. Classes will be offered Tuesday evenings from 6:30-7:30 p.m. EST beginning April 20 through May 25, 2021.
Join me and my consumer horticulture colleagues David Lowenstein and Nathaniel Walton as we present topics for newer backyard fruit growers and gardeners who are thinking about growing fruit for personal use. We will cover what is required to get started, selecting a site, preparing soil, selecting cultivars and fruit, pruning practices, integrated pest management and various other maintenance activities important to successful fruit production.
Additional Extension resources will be available for download. This webinar qualifies for 6 hours of Extension Master Gardener educational credits. For project description, choose: Food Gardening - General.
Cost is $30 if you register by the early bird date of April 15. After this, the cost is $40.
If you are not available during the live class sessions, you will be provided a recording. Before the first class, you will be provided with a Zoom link. Be sure you have high speed internet for a positive class experience.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit https://extension.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
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How Drones Could Transform the Landscape Industry
Small rotor-equipped robots that can be operated from the ground to fly or hover in the sky are commonly called drones. They are correctly referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). When a UAV is paired with a remote control and two-way communication, the entire package is referred to as an unmanned aerial system (UAS).
Lightweight and highly maneuverable, UAVs can be operated either via remote control or smartphone. Many can fly for almost an hour on a single charge.
Thousands of UAVs were sold over the year-end holidays. It is expected that 1.9 million more drones will be sold in the U.S. this year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Hobbyists and other recreational users purchase the great majority of drones. Most of these units cost in the $50 to $300 range. But, as industries realize their potential, more sophisticated and expensive systems are being used for commercial purposes. These high-tech robots can shoot professional-quality, high-definition photographs and video, which operators on the ground can see and download immediately.
UAVs offer many great labor- and time-saving opportunities for a wide range of professionals, including landscape contractors, golf course superintendents, sports field managers, irrigation specialists and arborists. But, presently, the number of landscape companies using UAVs appears to be small. Even so, based on the growing adoption in other industries—real estate, agriculture, professional photography, to name a few—it seems inevitable that landscape, irrigation and tree care professionals will embrace their use as well. In fact, a few already have.
Landscape pros using drones
In late 2014, Green Scene Landscaping & Pools, a Los Angeles-based design and construction firm specializing in high-end landscapes, announced in a press release that it had begun using a quad-rotor UAV equipped with a high-resolution camera to capture aerial landscape images.
“Our designs are typically conceived from an overhead perspective, but in the past we were rarely able to see the finished product from the air,” says Scott Cohen, owner, Green Scene Landscaping & Pools . “The drone now enables us, and our clients, to take in the environment from above. It’s a game changer in terms of project presentation and promotion. It’s a tool that allows us to see the entire setting in context within a continuous moving image.”
Indeed, videography for promotional purposes seems to be the fastest-growing use for small unmanned aircraft in the landscape industry. Small landscape, tree care or irrigation businesses typically hire an FAA-certified company specializing in professional aerial photography on a project-by-project basis. There are good reasons for doing so, liability being a big one since these professionals typically have property and casualty insurance.
Know Before You Fly
Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are not failure-proof. Mishaps happen, and even a small UAV being operated in an unsafe manner or falling from the sky and crashing onto a property or, worse, a person, can create a serious problem.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) offers these guidelines for operating drones:
- Take a lesson before you fly.
- Inspect your aircraft before you fly.
- Fly your unmanned aircraft below 400 feet.
- Fly with local clubs.
- Don’t fly your unmanned aircraft beyond your line of sight.
- Don’t fly your aircraft near airports or any manned aircraft.
- Don’t fly near people or stadiums.
- Don’t be careless or reckless. You could be fined if you endanger people or other aircraft.
- Don’t fly anything that weighs more than 55 pounds.
- Don’t fly for payment or commercial purposes unless specifically authorized by the FAA.
Watch a video of what to know before you fly a UAV .
Drone concerns mount
Apart from privacy concerns by many Americans, the misuse of UAVs by some operators raises serious safety issues, especially regarding possible in-air collisions with manned aircrafts. The FAA has issued regulations for their commercial use. Also, the insurance industry is trying to get a handle on how to assess the risk of their use.
Even so, UAVs are here to stay, and their use both by hobbyists and commercial users is on the verge of exploding. Some users say UAVs can be fun to operate, and they reach places and see things that people on the ground can’t. From a commercial standpoint, they can provide a bird’s-eye view of work in progress enhance site surveying and modeling assess the safety and security of job sites and check the effectiveness of irrigation and other cultural practices.
Consider the time a golf course superintendent can save by flying a UAV over his 18-hole course to check its playing condition each morning. Using a UAV to survey the entire course may take perhaps 20 minutes, rather than the superintendent having to drive a utility vehicle or golf cart from green to green. The UAV in the sky delivers an aerial view of his course from 100 feet to 200 feet in the air, immediately telling the turf pro about spray coverage, any pest problems and his crew’s maintenance practices.
So far, landscape business owners are using the images and videos captured by drones to show off their handiwork.
Drones come with rules
Since Dec. 21, anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 pounds but less than 55 pounds must register it with the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System before flying it outdoors. People who do not register their UAVs could face civil and criminal penalties. During the registration process, each owner must provide his or her name, home address and email address. When registration is complete, the Web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership including a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft.
So far, the number of hobbyists operating drones exceeds the number of commercial users. In addition, the FAA regulations covering both groups of users are different. Commercial users are held to much stricter laws. Companies that want to use a UAV for commercial purposes must choose one of two options to do so legally. They can obtain a 333 exemption from the FAA, or they have to hire someone who has a 333 exemption. This is usually a company specializing in professional photography. The FAA defines commercial use of drones broadly. If you put a UAV into the sky for any purpose with a commercial bent – say, assessing the irrigation pattern on a sports field or, in the case of a design/build company, making a nice marketing presentation – you could find yourself afoul of FAA regulations and subject to a steep fine.
While the FAA struggles to get a handle on the fast-growing UAV industry—sales are predicted to reach $27 billion by 2021—it recognizes the incredible potential they offer to many industries. The agency doesn’t want to stunt the growth and use of these small unmanned aircraft by being too heavy-handed, but it must also protect citizens’ privacy and safety.
Drones have been used by the CIA, and also our military and ground forces for more than a decade now, especially in regions of the Middle East. They have helped dramatically reduce the risk of putting our American troops in danger and also as a useful strategy in collecting surveillance, intelligence, and performing airstrikes.
Detecting bombs is another way that drones have been able to save the lives of our military men and women.
Drones have been effective in targeting and taking out terrorists and their leaders. Yet they’ve also been responsible for killing a large number of civilians, something that is against international law. Because of this, many people are against the use of drones in the military, because some people feel the military leaders are treating war more like a video game and not really considering human life.
From drones to phones, new tech is making gardening easier
New technology is easing the way we garden, store equipment, monitor watering and re-shape landscapes. And some of those tasks can be done remotely, using phones or tablets.
The innovations extend well beyond downloading a few apps. New to the horticultural mix are 3-D modeling, GPS mapping, laser technology, drones, robotics, devices that can read the weather and moisture in the soil for precision planting and irrigation, and battery-powered and low- or no-emission equipment.
“We are seeing an uptick in landscape professionals using advanced technology to plan designs for clients,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
“Today, professionals are using drones to survey homeowner properties to get a birds-eye view before and during the design-creation phase,” she said. “Drones can also help landscape companies save valuable operational and manpower time that can be used elsewhere on a project.”
Modeling in 3D also helps streamline landscape design. It can provide a clear picture for homeowners of their property’s potential, Henriksen said.
Upgrades in battery technology have hastened the move toward lighter, easier-to-carry garden tools.
“Cordless tools that use storage batteries offer the most flexibility and freedom to move around your yard because you don’t have to worry about cords getting in your way,” Henriksen said.
A number of companies build multi-purpose engines that are used to equip a variety of implements ranging from walk-behind and rider mowers to power washers, snowblowers and more.
At least two of these companies — Kohler and Briggs and Stratton — have introduced small engines that don’t require oil changes for the life of the engine. Simply check the dipstick and add oil as needed. No more tilting these walk-behind machines on their sides to drain the oil, spilling some around the driveway or onto your clothing in the process.
Other innovations have further simplified small engines by eliminating manual chokes and purge bulbs. Just pull the handle once to start.
Consumers want easy, and many of these innovations are boosting purchases, said Michelle Gross, a Briggs &Stratton marketing specialist.
“Our own surveys of consumers indicate that ease of maintenance continues to be in the top 10 purchase factors for walk-behind mowers,” Gross said. “And the No. 1 thing people say they would like to improve after owning a lawnmower is the sound level.”
Mowers equipped with Briggs &Stratton’s Quiet Power Technology make roughly 50 percent less noise, meaning homeowners can do yard work any time of the day without disturbing neighbors, Gross said.
Efficient storage for lawn and garden equipment makes for less garage clutter and creates space for recreational items like kayaks and mountain bikes.
Another new Briggs &Stratton design allows lawnmowers to be folded in half and stored upright without causing fuel or oil leaks. It reduces their footprint by up to 70 percent, Gross said.
Scotts, meanwhile, recently introduced a series of devices for precision irrigation. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates traditional irrigation systems waste as much as 50 percent of their water by overwatering.
“Our goal is to give homeowners simple ways to use water more resourcefully and responsibly, and to make watering and caring for your lawn easier and more efficient,” said Josh Peoples, president and general manager of Scotts.
“From using a smartphone to monitor sprinklers and the moisture in plant soil to only watering in specific areas where plants need it, we’re committed to providing effortless ways to not only conserve water, but also to inspire people to grow, indoors or out.”