Using Drones in Citrus Farming

Count trees and size canopies, track citrus greening and signs of stress, and manage nutrients in your citrus orchards.

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From planning nutrient inputs to identifying diseases, citrus orchardists can improve how they grow and track their trees by using drone technology.

In addition to hurricanes, diseases pose an annual threat to fruit and nut yields. In Florida, a years-long outbreak of citrus greening has crippled citrus orchards, resulting in a 70 percent decrease in production in recent years. 

To catch disease before it spreads and manage other orchard issues , citrus farmers can use drone technology to bring precision agriculture to their fields:

  • Plant counting and canopy sizing. Replace ground-based sampling by using drones and A.I. to count and size trees. Use quantitative analytics to surface replanting opportunities and deliver instant comparisons on tree age and vigor. 
  • Stress and disease monitoring. Apply a vegetative index to immediately surface indicators of stress, such as leaf yellowing or browning and soil moisture levels. 
  • Precision input application. Draw from vegetative indices and zoning tools to apply tailored nutrient inputs to given trees or areas of the orchard. 

By monitoring tree age and vigor and adjusting inputs to specific zones, orchardists are saving time and costs, and optimizing the health of their yield.

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Use Precision Ag Analytics to Screen and Optimize your Citrus Orchard



Fly a range of ready-to-fly drone and sensor hardware, field-tested for citrus orchards, to gather high-quality tree data
Process & Analyze
Use vegetative indices to catch trends in tree health, identify early signs of stress and mitigate the risk of disease spreading
Generate tree inventories and export customized PDF reports

Collect Citrus Tree Data with Drones

Access a range of purpose-built flight and sensor hardware configurations, ideal for citrus orchard management, such as:

  • DJI Phantom 4 or DJI Mavic drones outfitted with RGB sensors for citrus canopy sizing and aging
  • The DJI M200 drone equipped with a MicaSense RedEdge-MX or MicaSense Altum multispectral/thermal sensors for in-depth leaf vigor and tree health analysis

When and How to Collect Citrus Data with Drones

Citrus farmers can deploy drones during the growing season and before harvest to track tree growth and prepare data for insurance audits. Given size of trees, operators can fly high altitudes and still capture precise data on a field, row, or individual tree-basis. 

Farmers can also draw on the expertise of our robust network of certified drone pilots. Our pilots in Florida are ready to deploy within a day’s notice, to help farmers gather the data they need to improve their orchard management decisions. 

Whether you’re managing a small grove or hundreds of acres of citrus, our industry-leading agricultural and drone experts can help you select the optimal drone and sensor platform. 

Talk to our team about your goals to learn if drone-based aerial intelligence is right for your farming operation.


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Process & Analyze with PrecisionAnalytics Agriculture

In PrecisionAnalytics Agriculture, a farmer can monitor tree health, verify inventory, and run a myriad of other analytic reports in minutes.
By catching signs of stress earlier, orchardists can more quickly identify diseases like citrus greening and take steps to quarantine an infected zone or manage inputs to mitigate crop damage. After a hurricane, they can measure the number of acres impacted to enable quick, correct insurance audits.

Plant Count and Sizing

PrecisionAnalytics Agriculture’s plant count and sizing tool gives instant, accurate counts of the trees in an orchard and enables farmers to track size comparison over time.

  • Define an area--by canopy size/age, citrus health, or another measure, and count the number of trees in it.
  • Compare the relative size of tree canopies and monitor the growth of newly-planted trees, or dying trees. 
  • Inventory-- track year-over-year tree counts and production and store documents safely in the cloud for insurance audits
  • View full-resolution imagery and zoom in on issues such as leaf yellowing or browning.

Vegetation Indices

Rather than sampling leaves of individual trees to test for disease or other stressors, farmers can apply an index such as NDVI over data from their orchard. By adjusting the near-infrared indices, they can catch subtle changes in leaf color and vigor on a single tree or multiple trees at a time. Then, they can ground-truth and verify the source of the problem.

PrecisionAnalytic’s vegetation indices enable farmers to use NDVI, GLI, and VARI, to identify early indicators of and trends in crop stress, which might indicate:

  • Disease--asymmetrical yellowing of citrus leaves, shrunken, green fruit, or stunted, sparsely-foliated canopies
  • Weeds--compare biomass between  citrus canopies and a range of weeds to manage herbicide inputs 
  • Irrigation--monitor the soil moisture levels and minimize the potential for disease growth or heat stress

In the field, farmers can geolocate themselves on their mobile device to quickly identify where an area of concern is relative to their position.


Custom Zones and Comparison View

Citrus greening disease, or HLB, is incurable. Creating custom quarantine and input management zones can help citrus farmers track disease progression on infected trees, and manage their healthy trees to lessen the risk of HLB spreading.

With zonal tools, citrus farmers can: 

  • Segment trees by age/canopy size, health, or create custom HLB quarantine zones
  • Get accurate tree counts for each zone, whether it’s 10 rows or 100 rows, and number zones 
  • Track stressors and tailor inputs to specific zones


Accelerating agriculture research

An agribusiness research company tested drones on the crops it grew at its research stations. Instead of surveying plots manually it deployed drones. The results:

2.5X more efficient than sampling
25% more accurate than hand counts
Surveyed full plots instead of sampling 10% to 40% of the field

Read the case study →

BASF quantified turf improvements

By quantifiably measuring sprig growth and green quality, BASF Turf and Landscape proved a 24 percent increase in Green Level Index for sprigs treated with Lexicon®. Now, according to Gary Myers, CGCS, BASF Pinehurst Project Lead, BASF is able to “use the data as the foundation of [their] presentations to prospective customers and golf course superintendents.” 

Read the case study →

Why PrecisionHawk?

We’ve built our offerings to scale. From investing in geospatial science expertise to understanding the regulatory environment, we’re able to support a one-time flight or a fully integrated enterprise aerial intelligence program.


Trusted by leading citrus growers
PrecisionHawk works with some of the largest owners of citrus growers on the planet. Ask us how we’re helping them better inventory their trees.



Purpose-built for orchards
Our cloud is optimized to deliver high-resolution orchard imagery and analytics in near real-time. Our robust machine learning-based algorithms are built for counting and sizing tree canopies, and identifying changes in leaf vigor.
More than just imagery
Partnering with leading manufacturers MicaSense, Headwall, and DJI, our system processes data from a range of visual, thermal, multispectral, and hyperspectral sensors--purpose-built for vegetative analysis.
Ag tech by ag pros
Our industry-leading team of Ph.D. and remote sensing-accredited geospatial analysts ensure our ag tech follows leading agronomic science principles.


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Redefine the limits of yield intensification, using drone-based data collection and analytics.

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