“Patterns can be anything from tires from the sprayer applicator. It can be something coming across the field from the neighbors, there might be some issues with the drift I need to go look at. That’s not very apparent when you’re on the ground.”
Casteel says he’s a big proponent of doing late season flying over soybeans because of all the information the drone flight will provide.
“They tell you so much about that field variability that a soil test that is taken on even a half acre won’t tell you. I’m talking about water supply, nutrients, all of that. You catch the flight later in the season as the crop is starting to senesce, you can really pinpoint issues across that field. The good, the bad, and the ugly.”
Purdue Extension corn specialist (and drone enthusiast) Dr. Bob Nielsen says drones are a great crop scouting tool and you can cover more ground than you can on your own.
“People often complain about the fact that you can’t fly very far on the battery and that’s true when you’re flying these planned autonomous flights, but if you’re just flying manually, on your own using the joysticks, you can cover an 80 acre field in probably five or ten minutes.”
Purdue Extension has a “Getting Started” guide to using drones. You can also register for their UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) training program at the link.