Agriculture Drone Mapping with my New Quantix Hybrid Drone!

It looks like a spaceship! It launches vertically but then flies horizontally! Isn’t this the coolest drone you’ve ever
seen? Introducing the Quantix hybrid drone. Today, in partnership with AeroVironment,
we’re going to do some agriculture drone mapping. That’s right, this bad boy has two cameras
that can collect both high resolution color and multispectral imagery. We’re going to use that aerial data to scout
my rice fields and help determine a wide variety of crop care practices. Like where do I have weed escapes? Does my crop need to be fertilized? Are insects eating my rice plants? The answers to all these questions have one
thing in common: color. A quick example: chewed on rice plants are
a different shade of green than full-leaf, healthy rice plants. In this episode, with help from the Quantix
drone, I’m looking forward to analyzing the color of my crop. I’m also going to show off the tech-specs
of this hybrid drone, explain how to navigate AeroVironment’s software, the AV Decision
Support System. We’ll log-in, interpret the results and
take action. I hope, in the end, if you’re a farmer,
no matter the crop, that this video will help you consider how you could use this technology
on your farm. All that’s ahead! We just need to get set-up for take-off! [music] Now, as you just saw, the Quantix Hybrid Drone
is easy to set-up. Unload, twist on propellers, insert memory
card, install battery, boot up, and we’re ready to fly. So check this out on the operating tablet,
we have a full pre-flight procedure. First we select a border around the field
that we want to fly. A fully-automated flight path is generated. We can now see in blue, the area we’re mapping. Yellow is where the drone will be making it’s
turns. The bold blue and red lines reveal both the
launch and return path respectively. And it’s looking good! Battery check. Propeller check. Wind speed check. Airspace check. Final safety check. And, last but definitely not least: launch! Isn’t it beautiful. And as I mentioned, the Quantix drone has
a vertical launch and then at 100 feet it transitions to a horizontal flight. This is to maximize aerodynamic efficiency
and range. All this, by the way, is automatic: the launch,
the flight, the data collection and landing. Super easy to operate. For this flight we are flying 360 feet in
the air and 40 miles per hour. With the built-in dual 18 MP cameras we’re
going to simultaneously collect high-resolution color and multispectral imagery. All this will allow us to completely map and
scout this 150 acre field in just 15 minutes. I tried to take some aerial shots of the drone
in action with my small camera drone but at 40 mph, it was near impossible to track and
film. See here it is. And now in slow-motion. Real time. Could you see it? Yeah, crazy fast. Meanwhile back on the ground, monitoring the
operating tablet, we can see the flight duration and mapping progress in real time. 14 minutes remaining. 10 minutes remaining. 1 minute remaining. Now let’s just admire this smooth, automatic
landing. The cool thing is that once the drone lands,
right on the tablet you’ll have a lower resolution, quick look at your newly mapped-out
field. You don’t even need an internet connection. You have a true color map of the field as
well as a NDVI version. For those of you who don’t know: that stands
for Normalised Difference Vegetation Index and is a classic indicator of plant health. This quick-look feature is perfect for immediate,
on-the-spot crop care cases that require fast decision making and action. Think of that, in 15 minutes I can see and
analyze my entire crop on a 150 acres. But beyond the tablet’s quick-look feature
we do have access to much more advanced, higher resolution mapping and data analytics with
AeroVironment’s Decision Support System or AV-DSS. But for that we’ll need access to the memory
card onboard the Quantix drone and our laptop. Before that though, let me explain why we
flew this particular rice field and what we were looking for. Today we are addressing weed escapes, trying
to determine problem areas and where we should retreat. You see, 10 days prior we treated our entire
field with propanil, a contact herbicide which inhibits weeds ability to photosynthesize. Visually it basically burns the weeds’ leaves. The unaffected rice eventually grows up and
above these dead or stunted weeds. Escapes are easy to spot because the weeds
continue to grow, pushing up their burnt leaves above the canopy of rice. A noticeable color difference with the green
rice plants contrasting against the browned weeds. If an area of weed escapes is large and potentially
detrimental to our yield, we will need to retreat–just that specific area, right. We’re not trying to re-treat the entire
field. But how do we determine that specific area? Traditionally we would need to drive around
the field and, from the road, attempt to sketch out, on a paper map, the area of escapes while
estimating the total acres that need to be retreated. That map would then be turned into the ag-flying
service and a pilot, from above, would attempt to hit those specific spots with another dose
of herbicide. As you can imagine lot’s a room for error
in both scouting and application. Error, of course leading to monetary consequences–over
spraying and paying for extra, unneeded material or under spraying and losing yield due to
weed pressure. So you can see, from the scouting perspective,
having a high-resolution color map within 15 minutes cuts down on my time driving around
the field, gives me a more accurate representation of my field and a better chance to accurately
locate escapes, all-in-all helping to return a greater profit on the crop. Lets’s take a closer look at our field with
the AV-DSS software. Here immediately you can see the field that
we scouted for escapes. Let’s look and see if the results match
what my eyes saw when I first scouted the field, the traditional way: with peepers,
pencil and paper. Here within the content manager pop-up menu
we can select from a wide range of data analytics. Under imagery we have the option of viewing
the field as true color, enhanced color, NDVI for plant health and GNDVI for photosynthetic
activity, water and nitrogen uptake. Good news! My rice crop appears to be healthy. There are also different layers that we can
apply to this map. Canopy: for indicating a particular growth
stage. Looks like I have a solid stand out there. Anomaly: that identifies areas of the field
that differ from the norm. Differ from the norm. Let me slow down right there! Remember when I mentioned that there was noticeable
color contrast between the green rice plants and browned weeds. Let’s take a real good look at the anomaly
layer. See here: where we have those fairly large
areas of bright orange. Disregard the levees, of course, but these
two checks here are what I was noticing from the road and attempted to map out on paper. These areas definitely need to be retreated. What I didn’t notice so well from the road,
were these escapes here. It looks like a lesser amount though. I may spray there too or I may walk out into
the field and take a close-up look to determine if the escapes are thick enough and confirm
that the area does in fact need to be retreated. Regardless, drawing a map for the ag-pilot
is certainly easier and faster to do now, by copying it from this monitor. Heck, I can even print these drone maps out
and take them with me to the flying service. That’s really awesome! I confirmed the escapes that I originally
saw but received a more accurate mapping of their location. I was also alerted to a potential problem
area that I hadn’t noticed before. So how else can I see myself using the Quantix
Drone and AV-DSS software? Like I mentioned before, scouting pests like
army worms. Their chewing on my rice plants will also
create a color anomaly. After a flight, I can potentially find hot
spots and treat just those specific areas. Many of you will remember my color leaf chart
which helps me determine whether or not my mid-season rice plants need additional fertilizer. I did an episode on that. But can flying my fields and analyzing the
NDVI and GNDVI data help me make that determination or tell me if only specific areas need additional
fertilizer. You can see the rice plants have entered the
reproductive phase–the rice kernels are starting to form. Can I fly my field and locate the earliest
maturing portion using the anomaly layer? That would help me determine which area of
the field should be harvested first. I ask, “can I” and these questions because
I’m excited to find out. This is new to me. I certainly can imagine all sorts of uses
for the Quantix drone throughout the crop year. In the case of weed escapes it’s definitely
saving me time, better informing me about my crop and potentially saving cash on inputs. What a useful tool to have in the tool box. And it’s my tool. AeroVironment is not selling flight services. They’re selling the drone and software. That’s right, this is my drone! I can fly when I want, no scheduling, no waiting. I can afford to test my ideas. I can ease into trusting and feeling confident
about using the data. So if you’re a farmer like me, consider
this as another tool in your tool box that you’ll carry into the future of farming. Wow, that was kind of poetic. I’m providing a link down in the description
to AeroVironment’s website where you can learn more. And there’s a lot more to learn. Features I didn’t cover like variable rate
layer that can help generate prescriptions for FMS integration and transferring data
to John Deere Operations Center Connected. There’s also more features like historical
comparisons, quantifiable charts and much, much more. If you have any questions for me and my experience
with the Quantix Hybrid Drone and/or the AV-DSS software, please let me know down in the comments. Also if you’re a farmer and have used agriculture
drone mapping in your operation, please let me know some of your experiences and some
of the uses you’ve found for the technology. Thanks for watching guys. If you enjoyed this episode give me a thumbs
up. Otherwise I’m going for another flight! [music]

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