First fully automated lettuce crop monitoring by greenhouse drones

6 June 2023 | Int. Greenhouse Guide | Corvus

Worldwide, the shift from open field soil towards greenhouse (hydroponic) lettuce is a given fact. Less water consumption and pesticide free lettuce are the main drivers, especially in North America. Corvus Drones introduces the first lettuce crop monitoring including growth and size monitoring as well pest detection. For hydroponic lettuce the detection of misaligned gutters is standard.

Spring 2022, Corvus Drones introduced the first fully automated greenhouse drones for young plant producers and breeders. Nowadays, around the globe many breeders and producers are using drones. Operating the greenhouse drones is easy and can be done from one’s office. Docking stations for automatic recharging and data upload are theingredients to make the loupe from data-collection to reporting fully automated.

The new lettuce application is developed and tested in several lettuce types like butter lettuce, Lollo Bionda and green oak lettuce. Other varieties will follow soon. The application includes multiple features. Hydroponic gutters can suffer from mis-aligment and get noirrigation. This results in wilting plants and less yield. The drone detects the mis-aligment and the grower gets an alert with the greenhouse section to check. This saves hundreds ofhours manual inspection per hectare per year.

Growth and size monitoring is the feature to predict yield and adjust crop planning. The software, developed by Corvus Drones Computer Vision partner Track32, does the drone image processing and gives an accurate figure about the leaf area development and actual size during the last crop phase. Optional is weight estimate and yield prediction. This urges co-work with the grower to make the information variety specific during the season.

For many growers pest&disease detection is the holy grail. The Corvus Drones in combination with Track32’s smart image analysis software are able to detect many crop issues and plant anomalies. Leaf color deviation is a signal of beginning diseases like mildew, botrytis or physiological abnormalities due to the greenhouse climate. Missing plants, caterpillars and some aphid species can also be detected.

The drone crop monitoring and detections are reported fully automatically. Optional is integration in greenhouse management or ERP systems. The Drone as a Service (DaaS) helps growers to focus on the crop management information. Corvus Drones is fully responsible for the technical maintenance and updates. At the Greentech Amsterdam (June 13-15th, booth 05.413) the Corvus Lettuce application will be launched and live drone demo’s can be experienced.

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