Making the Most of Drones in Agriculture
February 28, 2023More Info
This session has held as part of the field crops track during the 2023 MI Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference. This virtual conference held February 27-March 10, 2023, is a two-week program encompassing many aspects of the agricultural industry and offering a full array of educational sessions for farmers and homeowners interested in food production and other agricultural endeavors. Sessions were recorded and can be found online at https://www.canr.msu.edu/miagideas/
All right, Good morning and welcome to the first session of the field crops track of my egg ideas to grow with. Sorry about that. We want to start off in the morning by thanking our sponsors. Our sponsors for this program are Michigan State University Extension and Agra Strategies, LLC. With that, today, this session is have attendance that you were here. And with that, I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to our first speakers of the morning, Mike cranky and Eric Anderson. Thanks Jenna. So we're gonna do sort of a slide compilation today. So I'm going to be presenting part of the talk this morning. And then Mike rank key is going to also be covering some specific topics in here. I am a field crops educator down in the southwest corner of the state. And Mike, is also in the southwest corner of the state. Ugh, you'll see my, my title on this slide is viticulture specialist. What's the viticulture specialis talking in the field crops track. Actually, I was an integrated pest management educator for a while until just three months ago. And a lot of my work was on drones for chemical application in agriculture. So that's my credentials for why I'm here today. Alright. So we're going to talk about three different areas within this. So unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, most people call them drones. That's probably how we're going to refer to them throughout the time this morning. So first let's talk about what are the different uses of drones in general. And then some of the things that we've done with them, how to get started in case you are interested in getting a license and utilizing it in your operation. And then just ending a little bit with some processing of the imagery. What are the options there? So first of all, I just want to let you know. And you probably already know this. The way to get aerial imagery, drones is not the only option. Planes, satellites been used for a long time. So drones has a place. And we'll talk about some of the niches for that. But there's other ways to get at that information. Guess that would be another way to get aerial imagery. So this map here is, it's actually a little bit dated, but it's from one particular company that works with drones. It's an online platform and they have a decent amount of market share. And each one of those little blue dots just shows how many acres have been mapped using their technology in particular. But clearly, drone use in agriculture is grown a lot. The prices have come down with drones, such that most farmers can afford almost all of the kinds of drones that we're going to talk about this morning. So what are the different things that folks are doing with drones? Well, you could just take pictures of your farmstead. Hang a picture over the mantle. You could use it for promotions if you've got some kind of a marketing scheme, like a farm to market sort of thing. The general overview of what your fields look like in this case, we've got someone who's just installed some tile. So get up in the air and make sure that everything that you thought was supposed to happen actually happened after a rain event. So you can actually look at for example you know how that tile went and so you could you might be able to see some of that from the road. But being able to get an aerial image, especially a few hundred feet up in the air, can be really advantageous. And this is just one example of that. So this is a field is actually in the UP, it's a potato field. This is specifically for an insurance claim. And again, you can probably tell from the road side that there were maybe something going on out there. But being able to visualize it. And then there are ways to quantify how much area was impacted. Another thing you could do with drones is to take a look at your irrigation system. If you have that as part of your operation. These are all different kinds of false color images. But over here you can see the center pivot. And so you can see this red bands. And we'll talk a little bit more about what these different false colors tell you. But in this case, red is bad. And so you can see that there might have been some kind of an issue, some problem with the pivot at that point. Being able to capture that imagery, can help you to figure out what needs to be fixed. And that was actually one of the projects that we worked on. Lyndon Kelley is our irrigation educator. He and I worked on a project with some folks down at Purdue. And looking at if you've got a center pivot, what's an easy way to identify some obvious problems? We're hoping that it would enable us to actually show how much water is coming out for uniformity. But you can definitely tell. You might have a sprinkler head that's worn or whatnot. So one use of drones that we have used. So I'm sure that none of you have ever done that or seen anyone do that. You've got a ground rig and you need to get and you've got a window of time and the ground is just maybe a little too wet. But you felt like you had to go anyway? Well,a drone, being able to spray under wet conditions where you just have a pretty narrow window of time. But you don't want to rut up the field and just make a mess of things or have something like this happen. Drones play a really key part in that. And that's something that's Mike's going to talk about this morning. You can also use the drone for livestock. In this case, we've had some people talk about successes they've had and using drones for herding. Although I've also heard that for some livestock, that they just get used to it. And so that may be short-lived. So it'd be something you'd play with. Or if you've got the right payload on the drone, like this thermal image on the right-hand side. I'm also, this is outside of my area, But I'm also told that you can use this heat signature to maybe even identify when you've got cows in heat. I had one Researcher Talk to me about using drones. This was out in the Great Plains, but they're using drones to scare off birds. This is in sunflower fields. This is a fixed wing, kinda dressed up to look like a predator. Will talk about the different drone options. After I heard that, I thought, like, I like to try that. So nothing scientific but there is some little flock of Canada geese in a field next to some plots that I had. And I tried everything. I was that was buzzing the tower with these things going Hi, going low. They didn't really care. I guess not all species are gonna get scared off by drones or all kinds of drones. That was an interesting study that they had done. They actually had success with it. Another option for drones I'm sure all of you know someone who maybe yourself, you're getting older and you don't have anyone coming up behind you and the family who's interested in taking over the farm. Maybe you've got some that might be interested and any kind of new technology like this that would give a younger generation some ownership, some, some way to bring value to the farm, to maybe change up some of the things you do. Just maybe one way to get that younger generation to gain interest. By far and away, the greatest use of drones is for scouting. And this list here, just a few things that we've used the drone for, for scouting. And that lower left-hand picture, you can see some corn that was lodged that was from deer that's bedding. It's kind of a large area. And on the lower right-hand corner is a different kind of wildlife and blow that up for you. So this particular kind of wildlife was somebody in the area down here in Southwest Michigan just decided to get hopped up on something and get on a four wheeler. And they thought it's be fun to take a drive through the corn. So that farmer asked me to help him to, number one, get an idea of how much corn was damaged. But then number two, he was wanting to file a police report. So wildlife damage in general. And then another project that I've been working on over the last year. And I will talk about it again, replicated this year is vole damage. Voles are kinda like a little mouse like you see in the picture here. And a farmer in our area had some issues. And when you look at the field, again, you can kinda tell that there's something going on. This is kind of pickup hike. But being able to see exactly the extent of the damage and just what's going on. The drone really helped with that. And this particular field was pretty extensive obviously. But that was the same field that I just showed that pickup view from. So it looks really bad. And you could say, well, I can see it sort of from the road, but you can't tell how much. This image here just shows all of those different bare spots in this false color images, those are showing up as red. And we could quantify it. And we can say, well, something around 12 to 15% of that field was taken out by vole feeding in the spring that year. One way to, to see those kinds of things might be at the end of the season when you're in the combine. And again, you can see them as you're moving through. You can see that something is going on, but you don't get the extent. So that's one of those ways that aerial imagery can help. Here's another instance. This is actually a wheat field that was right after a pretty severe windstorm that we had down here. And this is actually my property to the south. And so I could see that something was going on. So I got the drone up in the air and this is what I found. So some of those you can see the sprayer tracks and the pivot tracks and whatnot. Obviously, this goes well beyond that. What you couldn't see from the field, and this is really, one of the benefits of drones, is you can start to see patterns. And I'll show you that same image from the other side. Clearly you can tell that there's a line in the field. So it goes from here to here. And I talked with the farmer and sure enough it was a different variety. So he had finished up one variety and just switched over to another one to finish up the field. But the other thing that you can't really see from this angle is some of these patterns that are in a straight line that wouldn't necessarily line up with anything as far as planting goes. And it turns out that while it was an overlap in the sprayer coverage. So it's something that farmer could use to start to make decisions. Obviously not to choose that variety again for its lodging potential. But again, another really good use of drones. Some of those images that I showed were what we call RGB, red, green, blue. In other words, it's just a normal camera type of picture. And then some of those were these false color images. Those are all looking at the plant health for the most part. You can assume that in all these pictures that you might see, green is healthy, thriving. And then as you get towards the red end of the spectrum, that means that the crop is struggling either from drought or maybe it's bare ground. So those false color images, really all you're doing is you're just capturing a different segment of the electromagnetic spectrum. So this is probably something that you saw back in science class in high school. This part of the spectrum, this little wedge, is the part that we see in the visible spectrum. So again, that would be your cell phone camera and RGB camera that comes stock with these drones. And you can also capture different wavelengths. Infrared, near infrared, red edge. Those are other areas that you can capture with different types of sensors. So the idea then is to take that data, those different numbers, those different reflectance numbers from the leaves, and just do all kinds of different algorithms, different calculations with them. You may have heard of NDVI that's just one of those equations. So it's one of the more common uses for those multi-spectral sensors to capture plant health imagery. Okay, so what you've been hearing so far, a lot of this technology has matured to a certain extent. Remote sensing. Taking pictures by drone has been going on for, for a decade, maybe a little longer. But the idea of actually applying product by drone, as has been in mind for, for a long time, but it's only been legal in the U.S. for a few years. So, so far. So this area is developing. It's not quite as mature, but it is to the point where it is commercially viable. There are companies out there contracting this work, even here in Michigan. So what can drones do for the idea when we're talking about applying product directly to the field. One of them is cover crop seeding. Now people have been using aircraft for aerial seeding in the past. Ground-based seeding is a well known practice. But where UAVs can come in handy is when we're talking about difficult plots, difficult areas. They can apply seed while the crop is still in the field. They can pick the right time, right, weather for applying product, the right soil conditions. But unlike the fixed-wing aircraft, they can hit small plots. They can hit plots with lots of obstructions. You know, what if you have a tree in the middle of your field, the drone can go around it very easily. Fixed wing aircraft. And even large helicopters, they are being restricted more and more as the year with each year because of FAA and other regulations. So it's making fields more difficult to to access. So UAVs fit this bill. In addition to the traditional products like cover, like seeds. UAVs are now being looked at for releasing of actual biological products, insects and insects in particular. Think of beneficial insects. Some small growers are using a lot of beneficial insects, especially in some of the specialty vegetable crop world. You can also release sterile insects, insects that have been sterilized so that you can actually use them for non-chemical control of some insect populations. This this method requires some specialized equipment that is not commercially available from the drone manufacturers. Drone manufacturers typically have, for these drones that are specially designed for, for application, have tanks for liquid products. They have tanks for granular, like seeds. But these insects require specialized equipment. But there are some companies around the country, including a couple of companies here in Michigan that have developed these devices. So what insects are being released from these drones? Well, we have, there are several different insects, not a whole lot in the field cropping space at the moment. Just because of the large insects, just physically the size of the insect. In the field cropping space, there's just, it's not economically feasible in most cases yet, hearing some instances in cotton in the Southwest, but we're talking mainly human pests. Like mosquitoes can actually drop large, populate, large swaths of adult mosquitoes that are sterile so that they can mate with the normal wild population and naturally reduce the population. In addition, you've got the specialty crops spaces like codling moth down in the bottom is being used in the Pacific Northwest for control in Apple and walnut plant things. And then you have the Mexican fruit fly and the upper left is a pest of several specialty crops, mainly in the warmer, temperate and tropical regions. So it's being released as well as steriles. But I mentioned beneficial. So on the left side of the screen you see the red mite, that's a predatory mite eating a two spotted spider mite. So this is a, they can actually release large populations of predatory mites for controlling outbreaks of predatories or of pest mites. So the one that seems to get the most attention is pesticide spraying. Kirk mentioned or sorry, Eric mentioned that a little earlier. This is what the growers that I've been talking with seem to gravitate to as an easy to understand area because this is something we all have to do in some way or another. So this is a, like I said, a fairly new technology. As far as legal. We have drones that are very different in scale, in size, in functionality. And we'll get to that in a, in a few minutes. But you can see here is a drone that is when it's fully loaded, we're talking about 175 pounds. It's 9 ft across. It is and it holds eight gallons of a little over eight gallons of liquid. That's a large device when we're talking about remote control of an aerial craft. But like any sprayer that you would use on the ground, these things are not toys. People will look at this as some fun toy to run around with. But there are a lot of legal restrictions which we can get into in a few minutes. But in addition to that, you have to know how to set up your spray drone. It is a sprayer. It functions just like a traditional sprayer with the same types of nozzles and everything like that. And here is a quick slide. I thought I'd throw a little bit of data from a project this summer where we looked at building some best practices on how to use a spray drone. And in the end, we realized that even just changing nozzles really impacts how the drone works. Not just changing a little bit of coverage. It changed the speed, it changed its spray swath, it changed a lot of variables. So understanding your your setup is important here we have on the left side where we were spraying some pumpkins, had a good good nozzle with some finer droplets spraying water that we were going to think of as an insecticide spray. With this with that nozzle, the fastest we could get the drone to go was 6 mph because the software said that that's as fast as it can pump liquid out. And we ended up with a 20-foot spray swath. You can see here some slight differences between how we ran the drone, whether we did three separate treatments. Running low as in close to the crop, say 5 ft off the crop. And as fast as we could, we also went with a half speed, but going double the height. And that adjusted some, some parameters as well. You switch over to a a TT nozzle that you would use for herbicides or low drifts scenarios. And it changed the software and the drone substantially and it went double the speed at which ultimately ended up with less, a lower spray pattern, even with using the same number of gallons per acre. So we did not change the gallonage. All we did was change the nozzles and it changed the way that the drone operated. So it's key to remember that you're not just, if you get into spray drones, you're not just changing the droplet size, you're changing the whole operation of the drone. In addition to that, you have to think about what crop you are. You got to think about what what crop you're spraying. You look at a specialty crop, you can all you have to worry about is a particular row. But you do have to pay attention to how high you're spraying off that crop. How fast you're spraying off the crop or fast your spraying across the crop. How many gallons per acre or you spraying? These were all variables we looked at in our best practices research. And we're continuing that development. But we found that what we learned in the, in the perennial cropping space is a different set of best-case scenarios. Then when we looked at the the, the broad space, here, we I showed looking at pictures of pumpkins, but any field cropping, any broad acre type of scenario where you're more worried, more thinking about is swath width. So you can avoid the conditions like what Eric mentioned earlier where you had a little bit of sprayer overlap. Or banding. Once again, we looked at the same basic parameters. Change heights, change speeds, and you can adjust your spray swath and your coverage. So it's, you know, it's like a traditional sprayer once again, but you're adding the variable of everything you do affects the software in the drone, in addition to another variable, such as height. So it does get complicated if you're interested in using these in a real sense. Just as a quick slide here, wanted to show this is a commercial product. It is being done. It's not as mature as the other variables or the other ways to use drones that Eric was mentioning. But we've been using spray drones here in Michigan for a couple of years. Just last year. Here's a list of the crops that I personally already know of that received aerial application by drones last year in Michigan. So it is a commercial thing. These were all done by contract commercial contractors working with the growers because of some of the legal aspects around drones that we'll mention in a minute. Pass it back to you, Eric. So all the cutting edge work with drones. Super interesting and we'll talk a little bit more about that. But we'd be remiss to tell you the drones, they can't do everything. They're not a silver bullet. So they've got a lot of uses. But we thought we should at least tell you some of the things that they can't do. So this might be a little tongue in cheek, but some people think that drones have some capabilities even with some of the sensors that I was referring to, they can see through things. And in fact, one of the questions that we've got from MSU when we started this whole thing was well, some of those sensors that you can have and maybe they were talking about thermal in particular. Can they see through things so well, know, you're safe. They're pretty risk adverse group up there. They can't read the dates on a dime from 400 ft in the air like you might see in a James Bond movie. And in fact, even the more expensive drones that have really high-end optical, optical equipment, they're not seeing that. Some of the images that I showed are with a 20 megapixel camera. And you just don't get that kind of resolution, so they can't do that. But really at the end of the day, all the different things that we've talked about. There are a great tool to have in the toolbox, but they can't do the work of an agronomist. They can't tell you what's wrong with the crop. They can show patterns that can tell you that something is wrong. You still gotta get out there and ground truth. Why did I see that red pattern in the field? Why am I finding this lodged wheat? So they can't do the work of an agronomist. You gotta get out there and do it yourself. Alright, so let's say that some of you are actually interested in either going in for business for yourself. I could, Mike was talking about some folks in Michigan who are already doing drone spraying, drone scouting. Or you just may want to use it in your own farm, your own operations. So how do you get started? So first of all, like it or not, we are operating a piece of equipment in national airspace. And so everything that we do with the drone falls under FAA. They have and it's actually gotten better over the last several years. But you got to take a knowledge-based test and it's called part 107 has all kinds of different things. I just put a few things down in the lower right-hand corner to get a sense as to what that test is like. It can be a little daunting, especially if you haven't worked with the airspace at all or nautical charts, that sort of thing. But once you pass the test, the great thing I think that they did in the last couple of years. You used to have to take that test every two years. Now, once you once you pass it onetime, kinda like your your pesticide sprayer, if you take that test, you pass, you get your license. You can if you want, you can choose to just go through continuing education to keep that license up. Same thing with drones. So now there's just an online sort of a continuing ed course that you take every year. The challenge with spray drone, actually applying product by drone is that you are under heavier regulations than you would from a remote sensing drones. Like Eric said. The drones can't see through buildings. They can't see through these other things. They can't see the date on a dime. So we're not worried about intrusion. In a broad sense when you're talking about a typical drone, that's where your imaging things when you're actually apply, dropping product from a drone. FAA looks at that in a different way. So in addition to the part 107 that you need for all drones of any size, you have to apply for further exemptions or licensing for using a drone for application of product. And it goes into two different categories, depending on the size of the drone you're using. Some of the drones that were smaller that are still out there for specialty spaces that fit underneath the original 55 pound weight limit that's been in um, that's been in the rules for several years now. You do, in addition to the part 107, you have to receive exemption for part 137. Part 137 is the classification area that all Arial applicators, if you're flying a fixed wing aircraft, a helicopter, anything where you're applying product, they all have to go through part 137 certification. This is a large challenge. It takes a long time. Part 137 typically takes two to three years to get. And that's because there is a two year that's almost like what you would call an apprenticeship where for two years you have to fly under someone else's part 137 exemption or license before you're allowed to get your own. It is it is a long, long process that is doable, but takes the time and you're flying less than 55 pounds. That's really the majority of it. You have to get a part 137, 107 exemption for carrying product on the drone. That's not really a big deal. If you go with the larger drones that are coming on the market now, like the picture there is the Agras T40 by DJI. It's the one of the largest currently on the market legal in the United States. That drone's takeoff weight is close enough, we'll call it 200 pounds. That is that requires a different set of rules and exemptions that you have to follow. It's the same part 137, the same part 107 carriage exemption. In addition to that, there are some part 91 rules from FAA which you're talking about having a transponder on the drone, you have to maintain contiguous, continuous communications with local air traffic control. In addition to a couple of other things. In addition to that, you have to have a medical certificate that the FAA recognizes. That basically says you are you have good eyesight. You can hear things well and you have decent meant, mental acuity. So these are all things that need to be updated every couple of years, depending on which part and which exemption you're going for. So little bit more complicated than just taking pictures. So getting licensed with the FAA, I've heard some farmers say, well, I don't need to do that because I'm just I'm just I'm just a hobbyist. I'm just out there having fun. I'm taking pictures of my my fields. But that's not the way the FAA sees it. So even if you're not doing this commercially for someone else, you're just doing it on your own farm. And it's kinda like being a private applicator for pesticide license. You're only doing it on your farm. You need to get licensed. And I've heard it put one way. If you're going to use if you're going to write off the purchase of that drone for a tax, you're using it for your business. So you really, if you're going to use it for improving your production at all, you need to get licensed with the FAA. So second step then would be to decide what kind of drone you actually want. Most of what I am showing you and what Mike is showing you with the spraying and applications is some kind of a rotary based. On the left-hand side, you've got a fixed wing. There's definitely a use for that. If you are looking to scout, take pictures of large area in a short amount of time, they're really good for that. The one on the bottom is relatively inexpensive. It's actually one of the first DJI drones out there. And you could probably pick those up for like $500, definitely under $1,000. Then the larger the payload. Then the larger the bird that you need and the more expensive it is. So this is still a quadcopter. Sort of a different take on a quadcopter, but there's different uses for these different kinds of drones. So once you find out what kind of drone you think you might need, then you have to decide, well, how expensive of a drone can I afford to crash? Because it's, if you've ever talked to someone who's flown drones, it's not a matter of if you might crash, but really it's when the left-hand picture there you can see well, that drone probably cost about $5,000 plus maybe $10,000. And then of course, all the optics, you're probably looking at about $15,000 crash there. Whereas the one in the middle, again, the drone itself stock camera. It's probably about $500. Now that the drawing in the lower right-hand corner, I just included that. Obviously that's not all that useful for agriculture, isn't a camera on it. There's really nothing you can do with it. I just put it there because if, if you're thinking, well, I think I might want to get into this space buying a toy type copter like that. Maybe that's a good place to start just so that she can get some experience with the joysticks, being able to maneuver these things around, get comfortable with it. And then you can move up to you something that is little more expensive. So again, like I said, it's not really a matter of if, it's when I've been I've had a drone license since 2017. There's different kinds of missions you can fly. You can do manual missions. Now the, what you're seeing here, this is actually a pre-programmed or what they call an autonomous missions. So it's trying out some new software and I was really just wanting to get the perimeter. So I'm trying to get the drone to fly the perimeter of this small area. And when I programmed it in, I didn't take into account the overhang on the tree. When you're watching that happen? It's it's gut wrenching to watch and you can't do anything about it. You're just watching it happen. Now, the difference between gut wrenching like for this one, that was one of those $500 drones. And throwing up gut wrenching is how much money you put into that drone. So have an idea of what kind of drone you need, but also how expensive a drone you can crash gives you an idea of some of the drones that are out there that you might use mood for mainly scouting purposes. I've got the two drones on the left-hand side and you can see there there's some $3,000 and that $2,500 in the upper left-hand corner that's fully loaded. So that's extra batteries, carrying case, extra rotors, all that kind of stuff. Again, like I mentioned before, the fixed wing might be a really useful, they tend to be a little more expensive. But if you're doing more acreage, maybe for commercial purposes, that's just maybe the best fit for you. When you begin thinking about using one of the larger drones that you'd be using for applying product. You can see here that the prices jump up substantially. So if you're, if you think you want to try to get into this space, you have to, like Eric said, afford what you can crash. And a great example is I know of a commercial applicator here that's been a collaborator in Southwest Michigan last summer. The precursor to that T40. You see in the top left-hand corner, the T30, which when he bought it, it was virtually the same price. So we're talking a $30,000 drone all in with extra batteries and charger and everything. He didn't, he crashed it in a potato field this summer, not because of user error, which can happen like Eric showed. But a part just went bad. If you're, you know it's not just on our end, it can be on the end of the equipment just being worn out. So you have to expect that those opportunities will arise. It's kind of like with a tractor. You can't expect the tractor to work forever flawlessly. So you need to be prepared for something to happen. And when it happens, it's not just going to stop working, it's going to fall out of the sky. So if you're looking to do this, even if it's just on your own farm, you have to be prepared for the cost. It's not. When you're working with an optical drone like what Eric was showing you in the previous slide. You have the cost of the equipment, the airframe, you have the cost of the extra batteries, the charger. Okay. That's that's a that's a cost that's of the drone itself. But when you're dealing with a spray drone, you're dealing with other support equipment because you have to be able to mix product. You have to be able to load the product onto the drone. You have to be able to transport the stuff around the farm. If you're doing it just yourself on a on your own farm, it's probably going to be on the lower end here. But if you're doing it for multiple farms in the area, for your, for some partners, it can cost more. You're talking $25 to $50,000 on top of the cost of the drone. Now this is fixed equipment that's not necessarily going to break it because it's not falling out of the sky, it's not going to break and that sort, but it is still a, an investment into the equipment. I know of commercial applicators that are doing this as a business and the upfront costs just to even get started is just over $100,000. So it's not a cheap investment to get into. Alright, so once you've figured out for your particular application what kind of drone you need. You've got to have a plan for generating all this different kind of imagery. If that's what you're doing, you're scouting or whatnot. And this term that's on the screen here, orthomosaics. That's just a fancy way of saying a stitched image. So you could take the drone up in the air and just take one shot, or you could take a video. And there's definitely uses for that. But a lot of times you want to be able to see the entire field, say it's 100 acre field. And you want to see you at a fairly high resolution. So what you're really doing there is you're taking lots of pictures and then you're stitching them together. And it's similar to like you see in the lower right hand corner. If you've ever done a panorama with your cell phone, really what the phone is doing is it's taking a bunch of pictures. And then the software and the phone stitches them together. That's called an orthomosaic. They're very data intensive and so you've got to have a plan for generating them. You gotta have a plan for processing them, which we'll talk about in a second, and analyzing and storing. So anyway, just know that you're talking about a lot of data and be prepared to handle that data while you've thought through all this stuff. But really at the end of the day you just got to, you've just got to start flying. There's some things that you're just not going to know that you don't know them until you find out that you don't know them. So how, how high do I need to fly? How many acres can I get done in an hour? How high can that wind be and I can, I can actually still fly it and get reliable imagery. All kinds of different questions. And you're only going to find those out once you start flying. So the last part we're going to talk about here is the processing. So again, lots of data, all the different kinds of imagery if you're collecting, um, and by the way, I've had this question come up. Well, let's just say that I do want to have a spray drone. Like one of the ones that Mike has been talking about? Can I use that for everything, for scouting, for spraying? And you can. But it turns out it's really not the most efficient or economical way to do it. These smaller drones with good optics, I can get a lot more done. And for example let's say you want to go out and spray just those hot areas in the field, some spot spraying. You're going to need to do some flying upfront to capture that imagery. And again, the most efficient way to do that is with one of those smaller drones. So what do I mean by processing? So again, like I said, you're taking a lot of different pictures. In this lower right hand corner, you can see each one of those black dots in that field is where that drone took a picture. There's a lot of overlap in these pictures. And in fact, you want to have 75 to 80% overlap, sideways and front ways. In order for the software to be able to render a good picture and be able to see every particular part of the field from multiple angles because you've got lots of overlap. So how do you get these things processed? You could just gather all the data onto your SD or micro SD chip and then find someplace online to process them. This would probably be the entry point. You just want to try it out. There's a pay-as-you-go system. And you can see you just an idea of how much that would cost per point. And they've got a way to calculate how many acres per point, that sort of thing. So that's one way to do it. DroneDeploy is a company I mentioned before another online platform. Instead of a pay-as-you-go, they have a subscription. You can either do monthly or by year. You can see that the cost is more. But if you're, let's say you're flying a couple of dozen fields and you're doing it maybe every week, every couple of weeks, you can see that that would that would add up. So that may be a good way to go. And there's also a lot of other bells and whistles, other tools with the DroneDeploy platform. Pix4D. If you wanted to do the image processing yourself on your own machine, this would be one way to do it. Pix4D is probably the gold standard for software for processing imagery. And again, you can see that there's quite an uptick in cost. You can either do a subscription based or if you wanted to actually have it outright. Let's say you wanted to do this commercially. You could actually buy it. And again, you can see that that's fairly expensive. So this is actually new to me. I'm actually right now taking a course on how to do some of this processing. So OpenDroneMap is just one example of an open source, a software similar to pigs for deep. So it doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars. There. There's gonna be a little bit steeper learning curve. But there are other options out there. If you are kinda techie, geeky and you'd like to do some processing on your own. This just gives you an idea of some of the different kinds of tools or products that you can generate from that. Again, those orthomosaics, you can actually do elevation models and you can start to figure out for example, how does, how does the drainage work on this piece of ground? Where am I expected to find gullies? Where might I, might be the best place to put in tile. So all kinds of different types of maps that you can get out of these. You can also hire a company to do everything. And there are some companies here in Michigan that do that. Mike was talking about some of the spray ones, but there's other companies. Here's a field. I want you to come in. I want you to map it and I want you to give me the stitched image. I want you to do all the analyzing. Then I can hand that off to my agronomists or I can make some decisions on my own. So you can do that as a one and done. And again, maybe that's an entry point for you just to get a sense as to what are the options out there. So we've covered a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time, and I'm guessing that there may be questions out there about the legal portion, the regulations, some of the things that we have specifically talked about in here or maybe you've heard talk out and about and you just wanted to bounce some things off of us. We've left some time for questions, so if anyone has any questions, feel free to put those in the Q&A. While we're waiting for anyone else to put something in there. I did just type an answer into a question that we got in the Q&A a minute ago. And I'd be curious to see if you have any comments, Eric. They asked about what the ROI, ROI is on these different drones. If you're thinking about it from a business standpoint. So it might be a little bit easier to calculate for the spray drones because you know how much it's gonna cost you too, to get that product flown on an airplane or with ground rig. Some of the things that it's kinda hard to quantify is, well, if I've got my own equipment, same thing if you have your own ground rig, is I am not beholden to the schedule of the company in town. So if I see tar spot coming on right now, I really can't wait two weeks. So some of those it's a little hard to quantify because you're, you're also sort of trying to calculate in, well, how much yield might I lose? I have heard folks talk about actually doing their own scouting with their drone. And so if you were to go that route and a couple of them, I'm thinking of a younger couple. And I think it was the wife who decided, well, I'm basically going to take over the role of agronomist for our operation. And instead of trying to visit all 3,500 acres, she was using a drone to do that scouting. And then you know trying to analyze that imagery so it's hard to calculate ROI if you're just doing it for scouting purposes, maybe a little bit easier for the spraying. I basically said something kind of similar. If you're doing it as a commercial entity where you're working with working as a contractor, you price your applications according to what the market will bear, which you use you can use aerial application as a benchmark on where to start with things like that. And I've heard of ROIs on the equipment for spraying as a contractor less than a year. Because unfortunately because technology is moving so quickly, it's hard to hold onto a piece of equipment for more than a year or two. Because there are new, larger, more capable spray drones coming out every year. I'm already hearing of some larger models. There's a fixed wing drone coming out. Hopefully pretty soon. That's going to eclipse the size of what's available now. And a couple of rotor craft as well. And with size, you usually get more productivity depending on how big your fields are and how big your operation is. So unfortunately, with the ROI on a spray in the spray world, you're just applying for your product. I'm sorry, you are applying product. You can do it quickly. You can price it accordingly. You can get your ROI, but you're investing right back into new equipment to become even more productive the next year. It's a building industry. Every applicator I heard this year, using drones had to turn business away because they were overwhelmed with what they could, could do. So there's more opportunity out there. And the cost of spraying from what I've heard and Mike, you can probably speak to this but if you're looking at, if you're comparing ground spraying versus aerial, an airplane versus a drone, it goes in that order. So maybe one to $2 per acre more drone spraying currently than for airplane. It's true traditionally in that space. Depending on the crop. Yeah.