First-ever large UAV precision ag project set for ND

By Luke Geiver | August 27, 2015

Elbit Systems of America LLC is bringing its large-scale unmanned aircraft vehicle expertise to the agriculture fields of North Dakota. The American arm of the global aerospace firm was awarded $357,546 from the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Research ND grant program to collect crop data using infrared, thermal, color and multi-spectral imagery.

The use of large-scale UAVs for precision agriculture research will be a first for the state and the U.S. “This exciting partnership proves yet again that North Dakota is leading the pack in finding cutting-edge uses for emerging UAS technology,” according to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota. “Agriculture is critical to our state’s economy and future, and it’s great to see the UAS technologies we’re developing in the state be deployed to help farmers monitor crops, identify problems and improve their yields.”

Elbit matched the grant from Research ND to bring the total research dollar amount to $715,092. Research ND’s main goal is to diversify the state’s economy and develop new markets.

North Dakota State University’s Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering will work in partnership with Elbit. Analysis of the data collected will be performed by NDSU’s Center for Computationally Assisted Science and Technology.