Drones Used by Danish Farmers to Count Pumpkins

Drones have come a long way ever since they were invented, and are taking over in almost every industry. The agricultural industry has not been left behind. In fact, drones are being used heavily in agriculture; from spraying pesticides to monitoring farm activity, and now to counting crops.  Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) were able to find more than the 40,000 expected pumpkins after they used drones to make a count at northern Europe’s largest producer of pumpkins. The researchers used unmanned aerial vehicles to count more than 400,000 pumpkins at Gyldensteen Gods, a pumpkin producer located on Funen Island.

It is currently Halloween season, which is the peak season for the squash plant. That means the result of the count is great news for Frantz Bernstoff-Glydensteen, the owner of the farm who will now be able to sell the additional 40,000 pumpkins that were found by the drones.  Speaking to Ritzau, Bernstoff-Gyldensteen said that with 70-80 hectares covered by the squash plant, it is quite often a daunting task to count how many pumpkins are expected to be harvested in order to plan ahead. With drones, counting is a breeze and accurate. With accurate data, they can plan sales more efficiently in order to achieve better financial results.

This project reflects the growing use of automation and technology to improve agricultural efficiency. According to SDU researcher Henrik Skov Midtiby, using drones to count pumpkins and other agricultural yields is not that difficult. Drones can take pictures and capture high quality footage of the entire field in minutes after which the count can happen almost immediately. Other things may be more complicated and require drones, macrobots and satellites to be used together, so that field can be sprayed or sowed more precisely.

Following the successful count, the researchers will now focus on other crops at the Gyldensteen Gods farm, having been awarded a grant by the Ministry of Environment and Food to research and optimize grain and onion harvests.  As farmers grow more crops large scale, it gets harder to keep track of growth, weeds, and pests at close hand. To improve efficiency and productivity in a farm, you need to have fast responses in the detection of such problems. This is where drones are giving farmers the edge.

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