Aerial Vehicles for Willow Farmers

What happens when info-gathering UaV’s (Unmanned aerial Vehicles) map out a willow plantation, and combine with laser scanners, GPs systems and software to model the ideal crop plantation of the future?
A Pilot Project headed by Dr. James Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Precision Farming at the Newcastle University School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, is starting to address this question through an EPSRC IAA* funded project.
Says Dr. Taylor, “Together with our School for Civil Engineering and Geosciences, our first step focuses on recording the volume and vigour of biomass of different willow varieties used for short rotation coppice. As we progress, our models will help farmers achieve greater yield and the best possible return on their coppice investment. Predicting biomass will also help improve harvesting and supply logistics for partnering companies such as Iggesund Paperboard.”
“Iggesund’s support and interest in this work has already helped us to move the project forward, and will continue to be invaluable as the crop regrows and we look at the next steps. Of particular interest now is what we learn from sensing systems about a young and developing crop vs. a mature crop ready for harvest.”
* The British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Impact Acceleration Account
David Watson – Cockle Park, University of Newcastle Farm Manager, James Taylor Senior Lecturer – Precision Farming | School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, Neil Watkins, Alternative Fuels Manager, Iggesund Paperboard Workington