Small Farms

New high-tech drones target Aussie vineyards

Drones equipped with machine learning and hyperspectral cameras could become a new weapon for the grape industry.

The high-tech UAVs have proved successful in detecting grape phylloxera in a research trial between QUT, Agriculture Victoria and the Plant Biosecurity CRC.

Phylloxera is an aphid-like insect that has been described as the world’s worst grapevine pest.

The drones take images using hyperspectral cameras, which can see much more than the human eye.

There are more than 135,000 hectares of vineyards in Australia, with the industry contributing an estimated $40 billion to the nation’s economy each year.

Until now, ground surveys and ground traps have been used to determine the presence and level of any infestation. However, while these are accurate, they are expensive and time consuming.

In addition to developing a methodology to improve plant pest surveillance in vineyards and crops using UAV-based hyperspectral and spatial data, the research team also created artificial intelligence algorithms to classify the individual ‘hyperspectral signatures’ of the vines, in a unique database.

This article was first published in The Fence magazine.

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