Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) used the technology to count as many as 400,000 pumpkins in total at Gyldensteen Gods, a producer located on the island of Funen.
Peak season for sales of the squash plant is well underway with Halloween creeping closer.
That means the count is good news for farm owner Frants Bernstorff-Gyldensteen, who will be able to sell the extra 40,000 pumpkins totted up by the drones.
“We have pumpkins in 70-80 hectares and no other way of counting them. Now we can plan sales a lot better and achieve a better financial result,” Bernstorff-Gyldensteen told Ritzau.
Photo: Henrik Skov Midtiby./Ritzau Scanpix
The project reflects the increasing use of technology and automation to improve agricultural efficiency.
“Counting pumpkins with drones is not that difficult,” SDU researcher Henrik Skov Midtiby said.
“Other things are more complicated and require drones, satellites and macrobots to work together, so that fields can be sowed or sprayed more precisely,” Midtiby added.
Following the successful pumpkin count, the SDU researchers will now turn their attention to other crops at Gyldensteen Gods, having secured a grant from the Ministry of Environment and Food for research to optimise onion and grain harvests.
“Increasingly large-scale agriculture means farmers are unable to accurately assess growth or weeds or pests at close hand. At the same time, fast responses are a huge advantage in fighting pests and weeds,” Midtiby said.
A report from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Food and Resource Economics showed earlier this year that agriculture could benefit by as much as between 255 million and 1.2 billion kroner annually by using technology such as drones and satellite photography to improve efficiency.