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How Agriculture Drones & Expert Analysis Helped 300 Farmers to Boost Crop Yields by 10% (Case Study)

OCEALIA Group is a pioneering French farming cooperative. Since 2015 it has employed senseFly agriculture drones and AIRINOV’s agronomy expertise to more accurately assess and treat over 300 of its members’ crops. The result: a 10% average increase in crop yields.

In our latest senseFly case study, we talk in-depth with OCEALIA and AIRINOV staff about these results, delving into details such as: when OCEALIA flies its agriculture drones during the growing season; what types of algorithmic analysis AIRINOV’s agronomists employ; what final deliverables AIRINOV supplies to OCEALIA’s farmers to help them optimise their nitrogen applications and much more.

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French farming cooperative OCEALIA employs senseFly drone technology and the help of agronomy experts AIRINOV – whose CEO Romain Faroux is pictured – to help its members across France to boost their crop yields.

To date, OCEALIA’s two senseFly agriculture drones have flown over 3,900 ha (9637 ac) of oilseed rape and 3300 ha (8,154 ac) of cereals, namely wheat, barley and triticale.

In the case of cereals, the drones’ data is used to measure the amount of dry matter in the field and nitrogen absorption at key stages of the crop’s development (from Z30 to Z39 on the Zadoks scale). For farmers looking solely to increase yield, a flight takes place when the crop is between Z30 and Z33 stage. For those looking to boost crop quality—i.e. increase the amount of protein in the plant—the flight instead takes place at Z39 stage.

For clients looking solely to increase yield, a flight takes place when the crop is between Z30 and Z33 stage

“Farmers can choose to get a drone flight at any stage. The flight is then planned about a week before the farmers’ fertiliser application and the data used to variably apply the season’s third and fourth fertiliser inputs” says Romain Coussy, who is in charge of decision support tools at OCEALIA.

For oilseed rape, OCEALIA’s team flies the drones once at the start of winter and once at the end in order to calculate the amount of biomass lost. “This figure tells us a lot about the size
and strength of the crop, as well as the amount of nitrogen that has not been absorbed since the farmer’s previous application,” explains Romain Faroux, the CEO and co-founder of AIRINOV . “The aim is to advise a farmer how much fertiliser to apply. This recommended amount is then usually applied in two or three different inputs during spring.”

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AIRINOV’s team supplies farmers with both detailed and simplified fertiliser maps – a detailed version is shown above – in order to suit however their apply their treatments and whatever type of machinery they might use.

Since OCEALIA’s drone program began, AIRINOV’s fertiliser application maps have had a tangible effect on farmers’ operations. “The OCEALIA farmers who have used our AIRINOV-supported drone service have recorded an average crop yield increase of 10%, compared to parcels analysed using traditional, non-drone methods,” Coussy says.

OCEALIA’s results are a solid, real-world example of how drone data and expert algorithmic analysis can have a real beneficial effect on farmers’ businesses

“OCEALIA’s results are a solid, real-world example of how drone data and expert algorithmic analysis can have a real beneficial effect on farmers’ businesses,” concludes AIRINOV’s Faroux.

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