Module: Drones in Agriculture

Introduction


Content Focus: Plant Science, Natural Resource Sustainability

Classes: High School Biology, High School Earth Science

Focal Points of the Unit:

  1. Regional food insecurity and natural resource management
  2. Describing the potential for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)/drones to manage natural resources and address food insecurity
  3. Exploring the issues related to using UAVs/drones

Missouri Learning Standards

9-12.LS2.C.2 Design, evaluate, and/or refine solutions that positively impact the environment and biodiversity. [Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions may include captive breeding programs, habitat restoration, pollution mitigation, energy conservation, agriculture and mining programs, and ecotourism.

9-12.ETS1.B.1Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts

Student Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to describe the basic science and technology behind the use of drones in agriculture and consider potential costs, benefits, limitations, and opportunities related to this application of science and technology in terms of the environment and food security.

  • Students will be able to describe the challenges related to food insecurity in their state and region.
  • Students will be able to explain the how natural resources constrain and enable agricultural production.
  • Students will be able to interpret a variety of non-fiction texts and other sources of media to explore applications of drones.
  • Students will be able to identify some potential uses of drones.
  • Students will be able to describe the challenges of manually controlling a drone.
  • Students will be able to describe the costs and benefits of different uses of drones.
  • Students will be able to describe the process and tools used by farmers and researchers to gather data about plant stress.
  • Students will be able to describe how visible and non-visible light reflectance of plants can be an indirect measure of plant health.
  • Students will be able to explain how drones are used to identify problem areas and potentially reduce fertilizer and pesticide usage for farmers.
  • Students will be able to explain how using drones to reduce fertilizer and pesticide usage could improve plant health, environmental health, and farmer profitability.
  • Students will make an informed decision regarding how to appropriately regulate the use of drones in agriculture.

Link to Instructional Sequence

Unit Assessments

  • Analyzing non-fiction texts about food insecurity and natural resource management
  • Interpreting the Missouri Hunger Atlas data to describe food insecurity
  • Modeling the process of using drones in precision agriculture
  • Summary Statements using Socio-Scientific Reasoning: Describing applications of drones
  • Agriculture Decision Case: Using Socio-Scientific reasoning to determine the costs/benefits of using drones in agriculture applications

Acknowledgements

The materials associated with the Drones in Agriculture Unit are based upon work supported by The Missouri Transect, a National Science Foundation EPSCoR Program, Cooperative Agreement IIA-1355406. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The student learning log activities are adapted from the organization for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID.org).  The water quality monitoring materials are based on protocols established by the Missouri Stream Team, a project of the Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  Lesson four features materials from the WikiWatershed designed by Stroud™ Water Research Center and reference materials by Dr. Stephen Overmann with Southeast Missouri State University and Bob Schultheis with the Missouri Extension Service. Other resources that are used as media references and readings throughout the unit are copyrighted and/or given appropriate attribution when feasible.