Maple Lane News

Get a Better View with an Agriculture Drone from Maple Lane

Maple Lane is pleased to be able to offer the AGCO Edition of the SOLO UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) made by 3D Robotics.  The SOLO AGCO EDITION is an agriculture drone specifically designed to meet the unique needs of the ag community.  With it you can get accurate data on your fields from the sky.  You could check how your land is drying, scout crop damage after a storm,  get a better view across the farm, or plan your fertilizer strategy.  This is a tool that can be put to a variety of tasks, and now not even the sky is the limit.

What you get from this agriculture drone.

The camera’s view can be seen as a live stream on your tablet while in free flight.  When doing automatic mapping the drone takes pictures in the right places so an image of the whole area can be stitched together.  The complete drone package comes in a heavy duty case with drone, remote controller, camera gimbal, RBG (red green blue) camera for regular colour images, NIR (near-infrared spectroscopy) camera for measuring crop health, four batteries, and props.  An Android tablet is required to communicate with the drone and camera and needs to be purchased separately.  We have used a 7″ tablet here at Maple Lane and would prefer to have a larger screen.  When it comes to drawing out the routes either a bigger screen or a stylus would be helpful.

The AGCO SOLO EDITION is an excellent package.  In addition to the drone itself and the mapping automation, the product also comes with a year’s subscription to FarmLens™ a fancy piece of software put out by Agrobotix.  The real power of your drone as a tool is in the big picture overview images you can get from high in the sky.  Your drone will take pictures and neat aerial video, your drone will run the programmed route and survey an area, but your images will all be individual pieces unless they are put together.  That is where FarmLens™ comes in as a remarkable time saver.  Without getting into details, stitching 1000 pictures that overlap is a complicated procedure.  Not having to worry about putting images in order lets the farmer use the data collected for decisions he wants to be bothered with, instead of the technicalities of photo software.  The final pictures can be downloaded as shapefiles which you can use to plan your variable rate application.

So the drone is an excellent value because it is a complete package, designed to fly a mapping route, and also comes packaged with the tools to make your pictures useful.  With 3DR and Agrobotix behind your technology, you have world class support, and all of this at an entry level price.

SOLO AGCO EDITION Agriculture Drone

An easy to use agriculture drone.

There is a strong push on this drone being very easy to fly and even more importantly the data it collects being easy to view and use.  The details may seem a little techie and scary, but the drone is rather simple to fly.  The beauty of the onboard GPS is that if you let go of the joystick it will stop right where it is, and if you press the home button, the drone will come right back to where it launched from.

All the math for mapping is handled by the app on your tablet called Tower.  (The 3DR announcement about the release of tower can be read here.)  Its as easy as finding your location on the map (it uses google maps as its default satellite database), outlining the area you would like to survey, and uploading the proposed plan to the drone.  With the flight plan you created you are able to tweak specs like flying altitude, direction of flight, and the overlap on the route.

Tower App Drone Control

Once your drone has completed its route it will return to the launch site.  With your camera card in hand, put the pictures on your computer, and plug your tablet in as well.  Upload the images in the Field Extractor software provided to the Agrobotix server, and let them deal with stitching all those images into one big picture.  They offer a four hour turnaround on getting your processed data back.

FarmLens Image Upload Software


Specs of AGCO SOLO EDITION agriculture drone.

– Agribotix imaging and analysis software for precision agriculture

– Field health mapping (NDVI)

– 2 customized cameras with special lenses for aerial mapping

– 10-15 minute flight time with camera and gimbal per battery

– Auto takeoff and landing

– Fully-autonomous flight

– 300ft altitude (legal Canadian ceiling for UAVs see 4.2.21 Requirements: Flight Conditions)

– Max speed 55 mph

– Wifi range: up to half a mile, depending on environment

– 1800g with SOLO gimbal and GoPro camera

– Specsheet

Legal requirements of flying an agriculture drone.

There is a lot of discussion around drones as they enter mainstream usage and become more common.  Both Canada and the US have issued parameters for the use of drones.  Regarding the Canadian requirements, the AGCO SOLO EDITION currently falls under the exemption conditions of a UAV weighing less that 2kg (the drone weighs 1.8kg with camera and gimbal included).