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Agcopter’s Weed Detection Tech Gives Farmers a New Edge

Agcopter employs Arcsky drones in combination with the cutting edge Single Shot weed detecting sensors and software in order to create maps of weeds in fallow (inactive) wheat fields, all with centimeter-level accuracy. This novel solution lets farmers take this map and load it into their existing GPS-controlled sprayers, allowing them to spray only the weeds. This often saves over 80% in chemical costs, not to mention offering a huge benefit for the environment.

Agcopter's X55 weed-detecting solution in front of a John Deere spray rig

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF NEW TECHNOLOGY IMPROVING EFFICIENCY, REDUCING COST AND HELPING THE ENVIRONMENT


In order to achieve high yields and maintain healthy crops, it can be necessary for farmers to use herbicides. The cost of the inputs can be substantial, especially with the extremely large areas that are commonplace in many wheat growing regions.

The buildup of chemical residue in the soil and the prevalence of herbicide resistance are a real concern with repeated, heavy use of herbicides. One of the novel propositions of Agcopter’s solution is the idea of “spot spraying”, which implies applying herbicide only to the weeds, instead of the entire field. It has historically been commonplace to “blanket spray” the entire field, due to the limitations of previous technology and the high cost of newer ground-based options for spot spraying. Applying newer sensing technologies, in combination with a quality UAV solution, allows for the quick and cost-effective detection of all the weeds in the field, which is then turned into a map that existing spraying equipment can utilize.

 

How the X55 Makes a Difference

Back in August 2023, midway through the growing season, we got some feedback from Agcopter about how things were going with the X55 as part of this unique solution.


Q: What is your overall impression of the aircraft?


The X55 is working great. The interchangeable power unit really sets this design apart from other drones. The drone packs nicely into one tough portable box and we are able to set up and take down quickly. It’s nice that different size batteries can be used with the same straps.

Q: What is the estimated total number of combined flight hours or acres that you have done with the X55 to date?

It’s looking like about 17,000 acres so far.

Q: What is the benefit that you have seen from using the X55, compared to other systems you may have used in the past?

The X55 is easier to transport and set up. It flies a straighter line in windy conditions and performs very well mechanically.

Q: How would you rate the responsiveness and accessibility of guidance and support when needed?

Amazing customer service and support. This is a huge benefit of working with Arcsky.

 

How Does it All Work?

For those of you that are interested in learning more about this solution, read on for the details of how it all works.


According to Agcopter, the process consists of 3 easy steps:

  1. Fly

  2. Spray

  3. Save

Let’s dive into a bit more detail about how each of the steps works.


Step 1 - Fly

Plan the Flight

Agcopter uses UgCS for planning missions. The first step is to draw out a perimeter of the field that the drone will map. No-fly zones (objects to avoid), and irregularly shaped fields are not a problem. The software is simple and user-friendly to use. When you have the area selected, the software automatically creates a flight path, which can be easily uploaded to the UAV. The flight distances and estimated flight time are all given, to help with in-field planning.


Fly the Field

Once in the field, the flight plans are uploaded to the UAV, and the mission is started. With minimal human input, the UAV will follow the route and collect imagery data. The system can cover about 500 acres per hour, and flies around 25 mph at an altitude of about 250 feet above the field.


Process the Data

The data that is collected from the sensor on the UAV is then loaded into the AGCOPTER software, which is processed to recognize and locate all of the weeds in the field. Typically, about 600 acres per hour are processed by the application. This interface also gives you the ability to target weeds by size, adjust the spray buffer, and ultimately figure out how much herbicide will be used.


 

Step 2 - Spray

Plan the Job

The detailed feedback from the sensor and the AGCOPTER software allows the end user to make informed decisions about how much chemical to use, which types, and how concentrated the mix needs to be. This outcome of this step eventually produces a spray file.


Load the Spray File

The spray file can easily be loaded into existing spray controllers with a USB flash drive. The files are compatible with most GPS systems and rate controllers, including Trimble, Raven, John Deere, and others.


Spray the Field

With the spray file loaded, all the applicator has to do is drive through the field one time. The individually controlled spray boom sections are automatically activated when they pass over the weeds that were mapped. Multiple sprayers can even be used at one time in order to cover the ground quicker, and this whole operation can be run during the day or during the night.


 

Step 3 - Save

The innovative spot spraying method saves on

  1. Chemicals

  2. Water

  3. Labor

  4. Time

  5. Money

All this, while reducing the environmental impact of these farming operations, and increasing efficiency.


If you’re interested in learning more about Agcopter or have a direct need for this solution, check out the website here: www.agcopter.us


For any other questions or inquiries about the applications of our unique UAV solutions, feel free to contact us:



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