The agriculture industry is one which faces huge financial losses each year, due to crop damage and adverse climatic conditions. In developing countries, these losses seem particularly magnified as their economy is driven, primarily, by the agriculture industry.

According to a research conducted by NIFA at the United States Department of Food and Agriculture, in the developing world, about 40-50 percent of all crop yields are lost to pests, crop diseases, or post-harvest losses. Even in the United States, this number is as high as 20-25 percent. Integrated pest management techniques are being adopted to tackle this pressing issue, but there is, still, a lot that needs to be done. It has been predicted that precision agriculture will successfully target this problem by the year 2020. Though the fruition of this prediction remains to be seen, drones are already being used by a few companies, to drive this revolution forward.

Agribugs, a Florida based company is automating agricultural survey operations by using drones equipped with precision landing and leveraging AI to accurately predict yields. Agribugs aims to help crop consultants and research scientists make well informed, real-time decisions on crop health and pest control.

“Agribugs is specifically focusing on the agriculture industry, working closely with crop consultancy firms to look at how they scout the actual crop. Our goal is to collaborate and integrate drones into their firms for analyzing crop fighting diseases and sending information to the crop consultants so that they can be more efficient and more accurate at their job.”, explains Darren Raj (Founder, Agribugs).

AgriBugs Story

Agribugs is currently revolutionizing agricultural practices in the North Florida and South Georgia regions of the United States, by using automated drones. Agribugs collaborates with crop consultancy firms, to provide them with insights on how to enhance the cropping system and increase crop production. They utilize multi-spectral imaging, thermal imaging, and visual mapping to identify crop stress resulting from pest infestations, water stress, and nutrient deficiencies. Pairing these imaging devices with their uniquely built UAV drone, they are able to

  • Capture images in real-time.
  • Provide accurate NDVI percentages.
  • Proactively structure pesticide spray schedules.
  • Increase crop yield.
  • Analyze data to find correlations between specific diseases and images.

Agribugs solution consists of these four components:

Hardware: They have designed an unmanned aerial system to collect data and provide it to the crop consultancy firms. Using this data, the firms can take quick and informed decisions. The user can use the ‘draw and shoot’ system to create preset flight plans and capture the data that is needed.

Imagery: High resolution RGB, NDVI and thermal imagery is produced, which gives a real-time health status of the crops, proactively detecting plant stress and water issues.

Software: A web or mobile application is provided to crop consultants, with organized farm data into a visual timeline wherein they can view aerial maps, track weather condition and share critical crop data.

Control: Prevention of water stress is ensured by fixing irrigation issues. Also, conservation of pesticides is carried out by spot treating the crops. The data received from regular drone flights are used to identify and pinpoint infected crop patches and isolating them before the infection spreads further.

Challenges Faced

When Agribugs started with their operations, they faced many issues. The most prominent problem was that the crop consultancy firms did not have the knowledge of operating drones, and neither did they know how to interpret the imaging data. Another major problem that Agribugs faced was with the landing of the drones. With manual flight operations, landing a drone safely on a stable platform requires an experienced flight operator. In AgriBugs’ operations, the drones landed inaccurately in the crop fields, on the unstable and wet soil. This frequently resulted in crop and hardware damage. It was time-consuming for the workers to collect and clean the drones after every flight.

Looking for a quick and convenient solution, Agribugs used FlytBase’s precision landing system, FlytDock, making it easier for the drone operators to take the drones into the field and use it themselves without having to gain extensive knowledge on drones and the backend. With the integration of precision landing, their drones can now automatically land at a specific position on a stable platform.

How did FlytBase help?

FlytBase provided Agribugs with a solution to build high-level drone application for agricultural surveys. The various intelligent modules available in FlytOS such as precision landing made it easier for Agribugs to automate their drones. FlytBase is now helping them with an AI and computer vision based solution to aid in accurate fruit and flower counting, and integrating additional payloads for terrain following. The APIs have made it easier for them to develop onboard business logic, remote monitoring and control through the web and mobile application.

“We chose FlytBase out of all the available options because almost everybody else is a privately enclosed company. FlytBase is actually the only one readily open to working with partners and can create automation for our partners. People can execute automated programs for their work, specifically in their realms. FlytBase gave us the ability and flexibility to create what we need for our specific task.”, explains Darren Raj (Founder, Agribugs) on being asked why they chose FlytBase.

Agribugs is now working towards creating a fully automated fleet system for BVLOS operations with extensive utilization of FlytBase. This will enable them to operate and analyze real-time data from multiple sites, even from a remote location.

FlytBase congratulates Darren Raj and Agribugs for their success and wishes them the best for their future work.

To know more about Agribugs, please visit http://agribugs.com