Oct 4, 2018Cranberry grant provides funds to work with drone imaging
As part of the research grant, the University of Massachusetts Cranberry Station in Wareham is collaborating with a company that specializes in drone imaging technology, Skycision Inc.
Skycision, founded in Pennsylvania in 2015, now has operations from coast to coast. This growing company has developed the programing and computer application to read, interpret and deliver real-time information from drone-collected aerial imagery.
It enables users to identify pests, including weeds and disease, as well as heat and water stress, before they make a significant impact on crops. The company’s aerial mapping application can provide measurement of the variation of plant energy as an indicator of field health and thermal differences within the bogs.
According to an article written by Brian Wick, executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Grower’s Association and Linda Rinta, Xerces Society conservation consultant, the research grant that the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association obtained provides funds for scientists at the UMass Cranberry Station and the A.D. Makepeace Company to monitor cranberry bog heat and identify plant stress through heat sensing drone photography. The project evaluates the ability of irrigation water from sprinkler systems to cool cranberry bogs on excessively hot days via evaporative cooling in much the same way that someone would be cooled down by misting water on themselves on hot days. Thermal imagery captured by drones will indicate how well these practices work.
The goal of the research is to provide Massachusetts cranberry growers with a suite of cost effective tools to measure the climatic condition of their own bogs and apply cooling treatments as needed to protect fruit production and quality with the use of drone aircraft and cell phone apps.