Today, farmers in Canada are facing challenges from both increasing operation cost and complicated farm stresses. For instance, as part of sustainable agriculture, growing the cover crop is a weeds control strategy that can intensify crop competition, and with anticipation to increase organic matters in soil. However, in addition to high operation cost, crop damages from ground equipment also makes it unprofitable to grow cover crops, especially for the small farms in central & southern Ontario.
SKY AG Canada team together with members of Plant Ag, University of Guelph. (source: SKY AG Canada)
On 14 Oct 2021, as XAG's local partner in Canada, SKY AG Canada kicked off a long-term joint-research collaboration with University of Guelph. The project aims to introduce XAG's agricultural drone applications into the integration solutions to deal with farm issues in Canada's cropping system.
University of Guelph, the leading research-based university in Canada, has been proactively looking for a balance between environmental stewardship and farm productivity.
"I believe that we could make things different with drone applications, which is a game-changer tech. It offers a solution without soil compaction issues, and possibly without crop damage and bio-type moving of Glyphosate-resistant weeds and disease. With drone-based spot applications, it would be possible to use less chemical inputs and water usage compared to conventional ground and aerial sprayers," says Joshua Nasielski, Assistant Professor, University of Guelph.
SKY AG Canada team operator carrying the drone to the demonstration site. (source: SKY AG Canada)
To make it happen, Professor Josh leads his team to initiate a long-term collaboration with SKY AG Canada, a Canadian precision agri-tech and solution provider, and partner with XAG in Canada for drone applications in 2 joint research projects:
• Late-season nitrogen applications in tall corn.
• Cover crop seeding in soybean.
Equipped with a tank that filled with cover crop seeds, the drone was ready to take off for mission. (source: SKY AG Canada)
Instead of growing for our plate, cover crop is a plant primarily used to maintain biodiversity on farm. It can bring a host of benefits such as improving soil health, smothering invasive weeds as well as controlling pests and diseases.
As rehearsal for the long-term joint research projects, SKY AG Canada Team has been invited to conduct a demonstration to UofG team on cover crop seeding with XAG's P30 Agricultural Drone at Elora Research Station managed by the University of Guelph.
XAG Agricultural Drone is demonstrating cover crop seeding in tall corn field to Plant Ag team, University of Guelph
With RTK navigation and intelligent flight control system, XAG P30 is fully autonomous to deliver seeds from the air with centimeter-level accuracy. Simple to use via operation by App on Android system smart phone, the drone pilot only needs to set the field boundary, obstacle, no spray area, and key parameters (spray rate, spray width, flight speed, and flight height, etc.), and then click one button to application.
"For cover crop seeding, the result is good enough for an initial trial run. The middle of October is late for cover crop seeding at Elora, so I don't expect much growth before freeze up. But two weeks after seeding the cover crops were starting to establish themselves," says Professor Josh, who felt excited and satisfied with the performance of XAG P30. It showed that the drone seeding rate well matches the same density for cover crop seeding.
After one month, cover crop seeding via drone spread showed a good result from the germination rate. (source: SKY AG Canada)
Drone application in agriculture is now becoming increasingly common across the globe, despite chemical spaying by unmanned aerial system (UAS) are not yet happened in Canada. It is expected that regulation barriers would be worked out there, allowing drones to offer a more practical alternative for seeding, fertilization and even spraying.