Drone technology has been touted as a high-tech crop scouting tool for years. Now, the technology has advanced to the point where farmers can not only conduct accurate plant population counts, but also distinguish between crops and weeds.

With a drone and a multispectral camera that can filter blue, green and near-infrared light, PrecisionHawk has developed automated Weed Pressure software that provide users with an accurate analysis of weed pressure in their fields.

“We give you a grid that has an index of weed pressure,” according to senior vice president Thomas Haun. “Areas with lower pressure will show up in greener shades, and areas of higher pressure will show up in redder shades.”

The software takes around five minutes to run after the drone (any model can be used) has flown and collected the images. Haun encourages users to take their own weed pressure surveys several times throughout the season.

PrecisionHawk has done further investigation into using thermal imagery to identify specific types of crop pests, but Haun says the analytics aren’t quite there yet.

“We do think there are specific heat signatures created by different types of pressures, but knowing what those exact pressures are can be quite a challenge,” he says.

Haun says PrecisionHawk, which carries both some basic free services and some premium paid services, mirrors how farmers tend to use drone technology.

“Most people like to start by getting their hands on the technology and master some basics before moving into more advanced analysis tools to answer specific questions about their crops,” he says.

For more information, visit www.precisionhawk.com/precisionmapper.