Using research drones to increase potato production

A team of scientists from Agriculture and Agri Food Canada in New Brunswick is using drone technology and specialized cameras to help improve potato yields. It is a collaborative project between government, producers, McCain Foods and several regional organizations.

Check out the video to see how a bird's eye view can help growers of this important root crop.

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Video Transcript

[An image and a maple leaf appear on screen. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light, electronic music fades in.]

Text on screen: Using Research Drones, to increase potato production

[The video opens with a shot of a close up of a mechanical drone being held by a man. The propellers at the rear of the drone are spinning fast causing a wind.]

[The shot changes to show the man launching the drone into the air. The drone flies off into the distance.]

Narrator: There's a new tool in farming today. It's high tech and it's airborne.

[The shot changes to aerial video footage of a potato field taken from a drone. Over this video a map of Canada fades in. Graphics appear to indicate the location of the research taking place. Text appears on screen.]

Text on screen: St. André, New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, a team of scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is using drone technology...

[The map of Canada fades away so we just see the aerial video footage of the potato field. Parts of the field are slowly highlighted in orange to simulate how the drone's camera sees the field.]

...and specialized cameras to help improve potato yields.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[An image fades in over the video footage. The image is a real image produced by the research drone. The drone uses tones of orange to indicate density of vegetation. Text appears on screen.]

Text on screen: Vegetation index (NDVI)

It's a collaborative project between government, producers, McCain Foods, and several regional organizations.

[The shot changes to a different aerial shot of the potato field. Slowly, sections of the field are highlighted in teal to simulate how the drone's camera sees the field.]

[An image fades in over the video footage. The image is a real image produced by the research drone. The drone uses tones of orange to indicate the canopy cover. Text appears on screen.]

Text on screen: Canopy cover

[The shot changes to show a man standing in front of a potato field. He is speaking to camera.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

Text on screen: Yves Leclerc, Agronomist, McCain Foods

Yves Leclerc: The imagery last year was very, very telling. And we could pinpoint, not in every field mind you, but in a number of fields we could pin point the issue quite rapidly.

[The shot changes to another aerial view of a potato field. The drone is travelling forward quite quickly so the field is zooming by.]

Narrator: With the drone imagery, the researchers study all factors that pose limitations to a healthy potato crop.

[The shot changes to show a man bent over and examining potato plants growing in a field.]

It's giving them a better understanding of why some potato fields perform better than others.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[The shot changes to show the man standing in front of an empty field. He is talking to camera.]

Text on screen: Bernie Zebarth, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Bernie Zebarth: Is it a physical property? A chemical property? Is it something about the soil biology? Is it a crop health problem? What are the limitations and how can we overcome these?

[The shot changes to show potatoes being harvested. There are two large tractors in the foreground. In the background another large tractor is harvesting potatoes that are being dumped into a large truck.]

Narrator: Potato fields are quite dynamic.

[The shot changes to show the conveyor belt that transfers the potatoes from the harvesting tractor into the waiting truck.]

Conditions constantly change.

[The shot changes to show a close up of people sorting through the potatoes as the come down the conveyor.]

Yield is affected by soil erosion and saturated soil conditions.

[The shot changes to show two women working in a potato processing plant. They are sorting potatoes.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

When producers can identify issues precisely and quickly...

[The shot changes to a close up shot of potatoes rolling down the conveyor belt.]

...they can mitigate the problems...

[The shot changes to show bags of packaged potatoes landing on a black conveyor belt. They move off screen.]

...and get a more consistent crop from year to year.

[The shot changes to show a man in a suit sitting at a desk. He is speaking to camera.]

Text on screen: Matt Hemphill, Executive Director, Potatoes New Brunswick

Matt Hemphill: For us to remain competitive here in the Atlantic northeast, yields have to come up. In order for yields to come up we have to better understand what's happening within our soil.

[The shot changes to show Bernie Zebarth walking out of a potato field, towards the camera.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

Narrator: Currently, the research team is studying more than one thousand acres of potato production in New Brunswick.

[The shot changes to an aerial shot of a potato field as seen from the drone.]

The results are helping Canadian potato producers remain competitive today while keeping an eye on the future.

[The shot fades to white.]

[Fade up from white.]

Text on screen: Modern. Innovative. Growing. Discover other agricultural innovations at www.agr.gc.ca.

[Light, electronic music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2014).

[Fade to black.]

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