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Drones to help with potato farming in future in Latvia

Unmanned aircraft, or drones, are already used in many areas, but it appears that they may also be assistants in potato cultivation, as researchers from Vidzeme university claim. Initial studies are being carried out, Latvian Radio reported July 12.

Vidzeme High School's scientific assistant, Andis Lapāns, has launched an unmanned aircraft over the potato field of the Priekuļi Research Centre, which will provide information on the field.

"So we get much more information, it tells us if the field is healthy, whether it develops well, so to say, whether the leaves are green and nice or sick. A farmer or a researcher can use such a device to fly above [the field], to see if there are any Colorado beetles," said Lapāns. As reported earlier by LSM, this year farmers have been plagued with the parasite more so than in other years.

"We're just taking pictures, but these pictures show more than a human eye. We collect the information we have, we collect the humidity, we pick up how well plants perceive solar energy, if they are sick, what diseases which varieties are combating better, which are better neighbors to one another, and so on. All this information can be collected and, by modeling on the computer, it is possible to predict which farmer should plant what. It was also news for us that potatoes had to be watered, but they had to be watered at certain intervals of time when the blooming ended," said the researcher.

Vidzeme University's leading researcher, Ginta Majore, says that the use of drones in agriculture, in particular potato cultivation, enables farmers to help them understand the situation in the potato field and also forecast harvests:

"This is one benefit, the other is that these sensors make it possible to see the situation in real-time, for example, humidity in the ground. There are, of course, fast-testing tools to be used, where you insert the ground and see the humidity, but our sensors send this data to the database and the farmer, also at home, can see the current temperature and humidity. There is also a weather forecast and a decision can be made, for example, on the watering of crops. In Latvia, currently, the watering of crops, such as potatoes, is not popular, I know it is expensive, but we look at whether it is possible, and I think it is possible to make this process something that is suitable for farmers."

At present, the study carried out by Vidzeme University is more topical to research institutes, but when it is finished, it will be an assistant to farmers in potato growing.

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