This technology will be very helpful right now because the region has received a lot of rain and is experiencing flooding across a large portion of Missouri’s farmland, said Aide.

“A lot of farmers are considering replanting or scrapping their fields,” he said. “With drones, we can canvas a large area without having to physically walk the fields, and the cameras can provide a true vision of what is going on inside the crops that we can’t see.”

As the technology becomes more available and affordable, farmers can assess and make crop health decisions, and there are more opportunities for agronomic research.

“Aerial hyperspectral imagery is currently being used in research regarding wetland nutrient enrichment, wetland and agricultural monitoring, water quality assessment, oil spill detection and monitoring, and classifying plant types in wetlands and forests,” said Andy Chronister, agriculture technology coordinator in Southeast’s Economic and Business Engagement Center. “This is just scratching the surface of the kind of research topics that involve aerial hyperspectral imagery.”

As part of the grant, Southeast’s new drone and hyperspectral camera can support research efforts with the University of Missouri Fisher Delta Research Center, the Missouri Soybean and Merchandising Council, and the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council.

The new hyperspectral camera allows for state-of-the-art remote sensing in agriculture, including isolating crop injury, soil nutrition status, disease and insect damage, and more.

Additionally, Southeast will support local farmers and the regional agriculture community to incorporate the new technologies in the industry and provide expertise and experience.

Southeast will also integrate the new technology into curriculum for students, said Aide.

The data collected from the hyperspectral camera can help students studying weed management, soil fertility, plant nutrition, pest management, crop production and water management.

“We can teach students to use the equipment and properly read the data for their own projects, assignments and research,” he said. “We’re preparing the next generation of agriculture leaders to effectively use new technology to have a positive effect on the whole industry. Hands-on experiences with this technology and a working knowledge of how to interpret and use the data can lead them to amazing career opportunities.”

— Southeast Missouri State University

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