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UAVs fly high at Harper Adams demonstration

Posted 7 August 2013

We invited the KOREC Group to give a UAV demonstration due to the increasing and potential use of these aircraft in the agricultural sector.

Pilot Sion Rowlands, from KOREC, with the Gatewing X100

A flight demonstration of several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has taken place at Harper Adams University illustrating how the aircraft are being used in agriculture.

The use of unmanned systems in farming has increased in recent years and UAVs are clearly a part of the future of agriculture, according to industry experts.

The demonstration at the university on Tuesday was carried out by KOREC, which specialises in supplying innovative surveying, mapping, machine control and geospatial positioning technology to a variety of industries.

UAVs, which can be remote controlled or can fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans, collect large amounts of imagery data and video in a short period of time which has the potential to increase agricultural productivity.

UAVs are also a more practical and inexpensive alternative to the use of satellites or flying an aeroplane over a field.

Martyn Palmer, from KOREC, which has its headquarters in Liverpool, said: “UAVs have only been around for the last three or four years. It has really come about by the miniaturisation of technology.

“We got into this about two years ago and started seeing them used in agriculture right from the beginning as it was a natural application for this sort of product.”

Three types of UAV were featured on the day – the Trimble Gatewing X100 and SenseFly Ebee fixed wing systems and the Aibot X6 hexacopter rotary option.

Sion Rowlands, a UAV pilot from KOREC, was brought in to demonstrate two of the models to a group of around 25, including university academics as well as representatives from the Severn Partnership and Shropshire Council.

The agriculture sector is expected to be the largest market for UAV technology in the future, making farming more efficient and cost-effective. UAVs can provide farmers with a more economical way to spray for pests and diseases, analyse soil patterns and check crops.

“UAVs are currently used in agriculture mainly for looking at the health of crops. For example, an agronomist can look at the data and be able to tell the health of a crop and can recommend to the farmer where they need to fertilise,” Martyn added.

“We have had enquiries about the monitoring of sheep on hillsides but we have not yet sold one for that type of application, but it could certainly be done.”

Leo Biggs, a Research Assistant in the Engineering Department at Harper Adams, helped organise the event.

He said: “We invited the KOREC Group to give a UAV demonstration due to the increasing and potential use of these aircraft in the agricultural sector.

“They can be used to assess crop health with the ability to look at crop damage, disease and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) amongst other capabilities. They can also be used as a tool for keeping track of livestock.

“As a result we think this is a piece of technology that could be used very effectively at the university in these areas and for research into new areas not yet explored.”

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