The Texas A&M Agri-Life Research and Extension is working on a project that would use drones to monitor the invasive wheat disease. Agri-life has been working to learn more about wheat disease for several years. The drone project just started before Thanksgiving, after the local Agri-Life offices began working with a graduate student from Montana who developed the concept to use drones in agriculture.
Charlie Rush, with the Agri-Life Research office says the drones can fly over an entire field in about five minutes.
"Ideally what we want to be able to do is do this before the grower has to make the decision in putting on additional fertilizer, or irrigation. And so we can go in and tell him something that will help him make those management decisions and ultimately be able to improve his chances of making a profit," Rush said.
The hope is that by looking at how much of the field is affected by wheat disease, farmers can make more informed decisions about whether it will be profitable to continue fertilizing and irrigating crops.
Rush says they will test the drones on crops this spring, and he hopes to have the drones ready for widespread, practical use within a couple years.