AgEagle UAV lands in Australia

By: Carene Chong

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A US-built Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with near-infrared imaging capabilities for crop inspection has officially landed in Australia.

Watch the video above to see the AgEagle being launched

The AgEagle flying wing drone is built in Kansas, USA specifically for the farming industry and was designed with input from agronomists, farmers and aviation engineers.

Australian distributor Falcon UAV is planning to launch the system at the upcoming AgQuip field days in Gunnedah, New South Wales where visitors will be able to see, touch and feel the piece of equipment.

According to Falcon UAV director Phil Lyons, the key benefit of the AgEagle is its ability to capture images in the near-infrared spectrum to determine the health of crops on a field.

"All plant life absorbs radiation from the sun and reflects it. A healthy plant reflects more radiation whereas a plant under stress will reflect less," Lyons explains.

"When we convert the images into Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) it shows on a map which sections of the paddock is crook and which ones are healthy," he adds.

"Farmers won’t need to then spend money on crop treatment or fertilisers on crops that are healthy, thus helping them save money."

Ag Eagle Near Infrared Image

NDVI image of a paddock

Following the AgEagle’s launch and utilisation in the USA, Lyons says farmers who have bought the system have seen savings of between 10 to 20 per cent in their crop treatment expenditure.

"That percentage of savings allows you to buy a couple of AgEagles," he adds.

Another point of difference between the system and other UAVs on the market, Lyons says, is the way it operates.

"The flying of the AgEagle is fully computerised. Anybody can fly it literally," he says.

A user simply downloads a map of their farm from Google Earth onto the AgEagle Flight Planning Software, and the program automatically outlines the paddock and creates a flight plan. The user then launches the AgEagle using a specialised "Long Bow" launcher and can then sit back and let the machine do all the work.

Compared to multi-copter UAVs, Lyons says the flying wing model is far more stable in windy conditions and generally has greater endurance on the field. The AgEagle is able to cover over 800 acres in a single 45 minutes flight.

However, what really sets the AgEagle apart from the rest, according to Lyons, is its affordable price tag.

"There was a UAV of another brand in America that is selling for $45,000, and another one from NZ costing over $50,000," he says.

"The AgEagle system costs less than $25,000 and includes the flying wing, the NDVI camera attached to the UAV, all other relevant software and hardware as well as training."

Falcon UAV also provides imaging services for farmers who do not wish to purchase the system.

Visit Falcon UAV’s stand at Row J, 16B at AgQuip to see the AgEagle, or stay tuned for our video coverage from the field days where we will be chatting to a number of exhibitors including Falcon UAV.

AgQuip is scheduled to take place in Gunnedah, NSW from August 19 to 21.

Look up more information about AgQuip 2014.

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