Tomsk State University develops a hybrid drone for field works

Scientists and students of Tomsk State University (TSU) are developing drones that can scan fields and precisely apply mineral fertilizers. The drone testing for agriculture is planned for the 2023 field season.

“In such an area as precision farming, drones are not just used, they play a special role,” said Oleg Merzlyakov, Associate Professor of the Department of Soil Science and Soil Ecology at TSU. “First of all, they are used to determine the agrochemical and agrophysical indicators of the soil. Along with this, there are drones that can be used for spot application of fertilizers and pest control products. However, the existing drones are not yet capable of solving these tasks at once.”

Most often, aerial photography of the field is carried out first and then analysis of the images with the participation of a specialist who determines where, in what quantity, and what mineral fertilizer should be applied.

The complexity of the solution lies in the fact that in order to simultaneously perform several tasks, the aircraft must have a large payload. It will have to carry not only an on-board computer that performs all calculations in real time but also mineral fertilizers. At the same time, the drone must be able to work for a long time, since agricultural fields have a large area.

“To speed up the processing of aerial photographs, special algorithms will be used – neural networks or artificial intelligence, developed by scientists from the Faculty of Innovative Technologies,” explained Stanislav Shidlovsky, Dean of the Faculty of Innovative Technologies of TSU.

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