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Kansas State University's Deon van der Merwe poses with a radio-controlled aircraft he and colleagues intend to use as a flying photography platform for crop research and assessment.

The Kansas State University Department of Agronomy will use its new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to study plant productivity, monitor plant growth stages, assess plant health, and map plant composition.

Once a Certificate of Authorization is obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration, the recently purchased MAJA UAS will be equipped with imaging systems and autonomous flying capabilities so it can be flown to predetermined locations within a line of sight.

Flight lines can be predetermined and uploaded to the autopilot so the plane can be flown along these lines to create picture coverage of areas or fields of interest. The images can be digitally “stitched” together to form whole field mosaics. The system will generate 12 megapixel images in near-infrared, red, green and blue wavelengths, which will assist in measuring crop growth, weed development and insect infestations.

Photo courtesy of Larry Dreiling, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal.

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