drone spraying

Spraying with drones will be part of the field demo event at Big Iron this year.

It is one of the highlights of each year’s Big Iron Farm Show – the field demonstrations – and the subject this year will be precision spraying.The field demos will be conducted in a field area immediately south of the fairground’s race track and “people movers” will provide transportation to and from the demonstration area. The program starts each day at 1 p.m., and will run approximately two hours in length.

Precision weed management is a practice more farmers are turning to in an effort to get a handle on some of their challenging weed problems, according to John Nowatzki, coordinator of the Big Iron Field Demo program and Extension ag machinery specialist in the NDSU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

The field demonstrations this year will have three featured areas in relation to precision spraying.

“We will start each day of the demonstrations in a classroom setting with a discussion on what some of the experts at NDSU are doing in terms of weed identification – trying to use aerial imagery to identify specific weeds,” he said. “We have eight different common weeds we are able to identify at this point. The researchers have completed the greenhouse portion and now have moved the project outside to the NDSU plots at Prosper, N.D. They will bring everyone up to date on their research work.”

They are flying over the weed plots with drones a couple times a week and are using various forms of imagery in the detection work, not just color and infra-red imagery.

Field demonstrations

The rest of the field demonstration time will be spent in the field area. The first segment will allow each of the companies displaying their product to describe the precision spraying capabilities of their particular machine. After that, each company will have five minutes to actually demonstrate how they are able to apply spray to just certain areas of the field using on-the-go boom sections and individual nozzle controls to apply a spray solution in an isolated area of the field. This will be accomplished by using marker flags in the field area.

Those companies already lined up for field demonstrations three weeks before the show include:

  • Titan Machinery – Patriot Sprayer
  • RDO Equipment – John Deere Sprayer
  • AGCO – Rogator Sprayer

However, Nowatzki expects the list of demonstrating companies to grow as we get closer to show time. Each participating commercial sprayer company will have time allotted to explain the technology on their machines related to precision weed management, economic advantages and environmental protection.

Spraying with drones

The final part of the precision spraying program will take to the air and show how UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) technology can be used in chemical application. This will show how drones can be used to flying on chemicals to control specific weed problems in limited areas of the field.

There will also be a short discussion on how drones can be used to apply such things as an insecticide to a herd of cattle. This was tried earlier this summer at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center in Streeter, N.D., with their cattle herd and the practice showed promising results.

NDSU will be demonstrating their HSE UAS sprayer during this part of the field demo, according to Nowatzki.

 The Big Iron Field Demonstrations are sponsored again this year by the Farm & Ranch Guide and continue to be an informative way to introduce new technology to ag producers throughout the region.

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