CASNR Research Helps Cutting-Edge Technology Take Flight

Assistant professor Wenxuan Guo is using drones to aid in optimizing agricultural production.

Guo Drones

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are being used in agriculture to help farmers work more efficiently and use fewer inputs. Researchers in Texas Tech University's College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources (CASNR) are working with drones to develop advanced agricultural production practices.

Wenxuan Guo, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, studies precision agriculture using drones along with other new technologies to conduct his research for optimized agricultural production.

"Based on these technologies, farmers can make a better decision on how to manage their crops, their fields and their farms," Guo said. "So, overall, we can produce more crops with the same amount of water and other resources."

In agriculture, drones often can detect potential problems with a crop using specialized sensors, such as infrared or thermal cameras and high-resolution video.

Drone Aerial View

These tools allow farmers to locate, identify and address production-related issues before they can impact crops or livestock by observing different spectral signatures in the images.

Juan Cantu, a doctoral student in Plant and Soil Science, is working to develop a drone system that can estimate yield. If the algorithm for the yield estimators currently being used by producers could be modified for a drone, yield estimates could be determined more quickly, he said.

"There are unlimited possibilities with drones," Cantu said. "We are coming up with new ideas even now."

Despite the many rules and regulations related to their use, drones in agriculture are becoming much more useful and common. They can help farmers monitor crops and livestock more efficiently and often fix problems before their impacts can easily be seen.

Cantu said drone technologies are close to helping solve many of the problems currently facing agriculture.

"I don't think drones are the answer," Cantu said. "I don't think any one thing is the answer, but I think they will be an important tool for precision agriculture."

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The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is made up of six departments:

  • Agriculture and Applied Economics
  • Agricultural Education and Communications
  • Animal and Food Science
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Plant and Soil Science
  • Natural Resources Management

The college also consists of eleven research centers and institutes, including the Cotton Economics Research Institute, the International Cotton Research Center and the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute.


Department of Plant & Soil Science

Plant & Soil

The mission of the Department of Plant & Soil Science is to improve plants for human use, increase knowledge about our environment, and enhance sustainable practices in plant production and value-added processing through education, research, and outreach.

The department is a comprehensive academic department conducting research and offering coursework and academic programs in all areas of the plant and soil sciences.