Making use of Pix in cotton with Pix4Dfields – Drones Information
Mast Farms LLC uses Quantix Mapper and Pix4Dfields to create variable rates for Pix application on their cotton farm.
Cotton is one of the most important crops grown in the United States and a staple of the fashion, personal care, and beauty industries, to name a few. Very little is lost after harvest, which makes cotton a very compelling and rewarding crop.
Cotton has been grown for over 5,000 years and it is only recently that modern farming methods have replaced hand-picking and plowing horses. Advanced machinery and other technological advances such as precision farming enable farmers to grow and harvest cotton more efficiently.
Cotton growing in Mississippi
Mast Farms LLC is a family-run, multi-generation farm growing cotton in eastern Mississippi. Cotton plants are well suited to deep, well-drained and very fertile sandy loam soils with a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Most of the row crops in Mississippi (cotton, corn, and soybeans) occur in the Delta’s relatively shallow, deep alluvial soils, which are conducive to mechanized agriculture.
Technological advances in transgenic cottons have made cotton easier to manage and produce, and these advances remain a key reason why yields have continued to rise4. The change in cotton growth has become an essential part of cotton production as it can affect yields if properly managed.
Plant growth regulators
The key to changing the growth is knowing what the plant needs at each stage of development to achieve the ultimate goal of higher yield and higher quality. The next step is to do everything possible to meet these requirements. Plant growth regulators can promote earliness, square and bulb retention, higher nutrient uptake and harmonious vegetative and reproductive growth to improve lint yield and quality5.
The number of synthetic plant growth regulators available to cotton farmers is increasing. Pix is the most commonly used material as it can reduce excessive cotton growth and highlight the development of bolls.
Quantix Mapper and Pix4Dfields
To know exactly when and where to use Pix in their cotton fields, the Mast Farms team flies the AeroVironment Quantix Mapper drone to collect timely and accurate data. “It’s no cheaper than using fixed wing imagery, but it gives us the independence to get the job done asap,” said Lowell Mullet, member manager of Mast Farms LLC.
After the images are captured, the Mast Farms team processes them with Pix4Dfields to create NDVI maps and then create zoning maps.
“This particular field is 517 acres, and from the start of the flight to I can get a prescription for the sprayer it’s about two hours, depending on the pixel size in the processing,” says Lowell. “I collected 20.4 GB of data on the 517 acres and it took about 45 minutes to process.”
More control over data
The latest version of Pix4Dfields offers advanced layer visualization that allows you to focus on the data that is important to you. With the added tools, users can filter out roads, trees and fences and focus precisely on the harvest.
An NDVI map generated by Pix4Dfields with advanced layer visualization tools
Make a recipe for Pix
Many studies have found that NDVI is a consistent indicator of leaf area index and plant biomass. Because of this, NDVI or other indexes can be ideal tools for classifying the variability of plant growth in a field.
Using an NDVI generated in Pix4Dfields, Mast Farms was able to classify higher and lower vegetation areas using the zoning tool in Pix4Dfields. The tool divided the field into three different levels of vegetation. The areas of the field were scouted to determine the height to knot ratio (HNR). This is an important step in determining the PGR rate to use for each zone.
A Pix4Dfields zoning map for use with variable Pix-Rate on cotton fields
Lastly, the zoning tool was used to create a recipe. Rates were assigned to each vegetation zone based on the HNR. The Haggie STS 16 was equipped with a Raven Sidekick so that the Pix could be sprayed directly into the boom when spraying. Due to the injection system, rates of 8, 12 and 16 ounces / acre per zone were assigned. To complete the prescription, the file was exported and loaded into the spray monitor for use.
Finish the job
Mast Farms was able to quickly and efficiently apply Pix to their cotton field using Quantix Mapper, Pix4Dfields and STS 16.
“The beauty of using the Quantix with Pix4Dfields is the timeliness with which fields are flown, processed, zoned, Rx (variable rate recipes) created, and sent to the sprayer,” says Lowell. “Pix4Dfields offers the possibility to merge images, generate indices, create zones and write recipes without having to use multiple programs and transfer data from one program to another. The program runs on a local PC so you can fly crops and process it on a laptop in the field, saving time. “
The Mast Farms team uses a Pix4Dfields zoning map with Hagie STS 16 sprayer regulations to apply Pix to Mast Farms cotton fields
With no need for the internet or a powerful computer, the Mast Farms team was able to get the job done and move on to the next job.
Special thanks to Mast Farms for sharing their story with us.