FIRST FLIGHT. Bob Recker got this initial look at his field in 2008 and the aerial view showed signs of what he would later see in his yield map: problems associated with planter issues, drainage and nutrient management.

25 Tips for Getting No-Till Insights from UAVs

The following article is based on Bob Recker's presentation at the 2019 National No-Tillage Conference. To watch other presentations from the event, click here.

The development of unmanned aerial vehicles — also known as UAVs or drones — and associated ag-specific software programs have made aerial imaging of farms more useful and accessible than ever before.

With the ever-improving quality of digital cameras, not only can no-tillers capture regular images of farmland but they can also get multi-spectral images that provide information about plant health, soil health, plant population, water infiltration, pest outbreaks and more. Additionally, software programs can “stitch” the images together to form a comprehensive view of large areas that can be loaded into yield-mapping software and layered for additional insights.

Bob Recker, owner of Waterloo, Iowa-based Cedar Valley Innovation and a retired engineer from John Deere, shared these 25 tips for using UAVs at the 2019 National No-Tillage Conference in Indianapolis.

‘Think About Why’

Recker started doing aerial farm imagery in 2008 as a passenger in an airplane with a window that opened. He had a simple SLR camera with a zoom lens and would simply point the camera out the window and shoot images. When drones were introduced, he started experimenting right away and over time have developed these tips for growers interested in getting started with UAVs.

1 Before you do anything else, think about why you want to get started with imagery. It must go beyond wanting to play with a drone or…

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Julia gerlach web

Julia Gerlach

Julia Gerlach is the former Executive Editor of No-Till Farmer. She has a lengthy background in publishing and a longtime interest in gardening and mycology. She graduated with a B.A. in music and philosophy from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis.

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