Drones Measuring Radioactivity for Optimizing Crop Yield

Agricultural drone at work
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Drones have a new role in agriculture, with the ability to measure soil radioactivity to optimize crop yield. A smart sensor mounted on a drone can detect soil radioactivity from the air, providing data on soil health and mineral content.

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Natural background radiation is a familiar concept that varies geographically and in altitude, with exposure coming from outer space and the earth’s crust. In Hungary, for example, natural radioactivity varies between 50 and 180 nSv/hr and comes from the decay of naturally occurring substances.

Soil fertility is essential for crop yield, with organic matter playing a significant role. Humus, a component of organic matter, provides nutrients, improves soil structure, and forms colloids with mineral elements. Several processes determine soil fertility, including weathering, nitrification, ammonification, humification, and nitrogen fixation.

Measuring Soil Radioactivity with Drones

A PhD student at the University of Groningen (RUG) in the Netherlands has developed a method to measure soil radioactivity from the air using a drone-mounted smart sensor. Steven van der Veeke’s doctoral research found that radioactivity in soil is an indicator of soil health, mineral content, and moisture. This information can help farmers optimize their fertilization and irrigation strategies.

Previously, such measurements in the soil were made with large and heavy detectors. However, the use of drones and smart sensors now allows for quick and easy measurements. This technique can be applied in areas that are difficult or impossible to access on foot or with traditional equipment.

Benefits of Drone Technology in Agriculture

Drones have revolutionized the way farmers collect data, with many advantages such as cost savings, improved accuracy, and faster turnaround time. The ability to measure soil radioactivity from the air is a significant breakthrough in optimizing crop yield. By understanding the soil’s mineral content, farmers can adjust fertilization rates and irrigation strategies, reducing costs and improving crop yield.

However, there are also some downsides to drone technology, including regulatory and privacy concerns. Drone operators must comply with regulations regarding airspace restrictions, privacy laws, and data protection.


In conclusion, the use of drones to measure soil radioactivity is a significant breakthrough in agriculture. By optimizing crop yield through precision farming, farmers can reduce costs and increase profits. However, regulatory and privacy concerns must be addressed to ensure that drone technology is used safely and ethically. Overall, the use of drones in agriculture is a trend that is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, with the potential to revolutionize the industry.

Source: futurefarming.com

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