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Using Drones to Collect Water Samples

Monitoring and predicting water quality poses a significant challenge since sources of fresh water and contaminants come from vast areas of land and waterways. As a result, inconsistent, manual “grab-sampling” has been the standard for testing water. University of Nebraska researchers are using a $956,000 AFRI grant to develop an aerial water sampling system using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The UAV can quickly and safely deploy to hard-to-reach locations and respond to changing scenarios. The prototype aerial water sampler has flown more than 1,000 test flights in wide-ranging sampling and sensing missions over California, Kansas, and Nebraska, collecting samples rapidly and at low cost. The researchers have refined the technology with sensors that enable them to obtain sub-surface water samples to detect salinity and temperature.

NIFA originally published this impact in the NIFA 2016 Annual Report. Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.

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