Scientists are halfway through the first year of a two-year Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) grant helping regional growers make farming more profitable by reducing inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, and water) and increasing overall crop health and yields.

“This season’s progress has led to several discoveries for growers in the Southern Virginia region, from confirming suspicions, to diagnostic tools, we’ve all learned a lot about the applications of the technology. Going into the 2018 growing season we plan to use the data and information we’ve gathered to tailor make remote sensing programs for each farm,” said Samantha Smith-Herndon, IALR Research Assistant.

Scientists use the AgBot, a drone with thermal and multispectral cameras, to analyze data from crops throughout Southern Virginia including the counties of Halifax, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Patrick, Franklin, and Henry.

“This is a very interesting technology. I can look at my vineyard and look at the crop I am growing and see what I need and which areas are working well,” said Rusty Thompson, Owner of Thompson Vineyard in Pittsylvania County.

“The technologies we employ, from drones to hyperspectral cameras, will be commonly used in agricultural production in the future, and IALR is proud to partner with the TRRC to introduce them to the region we serve,” said Senior Scientist Scott Lowman.

Samantha Smith-Herndon operates IALR’s AgBot (drone) with a First Person View display.