University of Florida engineer using new technology to help farmers

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:
Computer imagery shows information collected by drones about tree specifications (WINK News)

A University of Florida engineer is using technology like drones, satellites and planes to help our farmers.

Imagine you’re a farmer and you’re walking through rows and rows of crops to get information on your fruits and vegetables; but what if you could take to the skies instead?

When it comes to growing crops, sometimes you need to take a look at the bigger picture.

“With [a] 30-minute flight, we could cover 100 acres,” said Dr. Yiannis Ampatzidis, an assistant professor with the Department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering at UF.

Ampatzidis and his team have developed a special software to help farmers.

“It’s pretty accurate. We’re 95 or 99% accurate with the tree detection and measurements,” he said.

So how does it work?

First, users fly a drone to get a bird’s eye view of trees. With that imagery on a computer, growers can learn more about their tree heights and canopies, as well as if there’s room to grow.

“With drones, you can do it much faster with less cost,” said Ampatzidis.

But with more speed and cost efficiency, what does it mean for the farming industry? Some believe it will create more job opportunities.

“What the outcome will be [is] some prescription maps that will tell them how to more precisely apply chemicals to their fields, so it could actually result in more employment,” said center director and professor, Dr. Kelley Morgan.

The goal is for this software to help farmers across the country. While the target is Florida citrus growers, the program can be expanded to help other crops like sugarcane, grapes and blueberries.

So the next time you drive past farmland, you may want to look up instead.


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