Four leading agricultural technology companies announced the results of a U.S. trial where they collaboratively implemented drone-based technologies to diagnose a field issue, prescribed a solution, delivered a targeted treatment, and verified an effective end-to-end system. The companies involved were Taranis, a precision agriculture intelligence platform that monitors and analyzes crops using aerial imagery and AI; Phytobiotics North America, a Cary, North Carolina-based products company; Continuum Ag, a soil health company; and Rantizo, a Midwest-based drone spraying company.

Trials were conducted on six of Continuum Ag’s 50-by-250 foot soybean plots near Ainsworth, Iowa. Taranis performed scans of the fields at sub-millimeter resolution using the company’s proprietary AI2 technology and successfully identified the nutrient status of each individual leaf using an automated AI-based system.

On those sections of the plots that Taranis identified as nutrient deficient, Phytobiotics generated a targeted intervention/solution in the Taranis platform, and exported it via Shapefile to be deployed on Rantizo’s spray drone. In total, three different treatments were applied on two trial plots each. Adjacent non-treated strips were used as control checks.

The trial design was developed by Mitchell Hora, CEO and president of Continuum Ag and a seventh-generation farmer, with the objective of demonstrating the precise placement of a foliar micronutrient by a drone in a late season soybean crop and testing the resulting effectiveness.

Of the 6 test strips where on-farm field trials were conducted, the two strips that received a solution of water, 0.25% v/v non-ionic surfactant, and Phytobiotics’ Folia IQ copper applied at a three gallon per acre application rate showed increases in copper uptake, as well as overall yield increases in bushels per acre of soybeans.

Leaf tissue analysis conducted by Midwest Laboratories measured pre-treatment copper content at 8 parts per million (ppm). Post-treatment analysis recorded a 50% increase in copper uptake with measurements of 12ppm. Yield in soybeans increased by 2.6% compared to non-treated adjacent strips and yielded results of 1.51 bushels per acre.