Detasseling: from manual labor, days on end - to drones and AI

Scientists and growers started experimenting with hybridizing seed corn in the early 20th century, and even back then, detasseling played a most significant role in the production process. In a mere century, we went from extensive manual labor, to introducing machined detasseling, to eventually having access to the latest technologies of drones and artificial intelligence.

Why is detasseling crucial in hybrid seed corn production?

Precise and timely detasseling – the removal of the tassels from all corn plants of one variety – results in a more physically uniform batch, increased yield, and higher genetic purity. Achieving a marketable purity rate of 99.7% leaves minimal room for error. The detasseling process is highly labor-intensive and very costly. This is where Proofminder steps in.

Hybrid seed corn field after detasseling

Figure 1 – Hybrid corn seed field after machine detasseling

Missed tassel in hybrid corn

Figure 2 – Missed tassel

Challenges addressed by Proofminder

  • Proofminder accurately identifies missed tassels and provides their exact GPS coordinates. We provide a kml file (Google Earth file) that can easily be viewed on any device. These files can provide helpful insights for agronomists, seed production managers, as well as manual detasseling crews to prioritize areas with missed tassels.  
  • Proofminder helps reduce labor costs and time requirements.  
  • Our solutions save cost and increase the yield.  
  • We offer an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach to detasseling projects.  
  • Our solutions can be seamlessly scaled to thousands of hectares of land.  
Missed tassel detection in hybrid corn

Figure 3 – Missed tassels identified by Proofminder AI Model and marked on the field

Missed tassel map in hybrid corn

Figure 4 – Missed tassels report built with Proofminder

Our process 

  • A customized drone flight is planned specifically for your field. The drone’s camera is angled so that a much larger area is visible on the captured images.  
  • Commercially available, off-the-shelf drones are adequate for tassel detection missions.  
  • Proofminder can also arrange the drone flight part for you through our global network of drone service providers.  
  • A single drone can capture and process over 100 hectares in a day.  
  • Captured images are uploaded to the Proofminder platform.  
  • Our trained AI model identifies male and female rows, enabling the exclusion of male plants during the missed tassel identification phase.  
  • We provide comprehensive reports, including exact GPS locations and visualizations of missed female tassels. The GPS coordinates in the provided shapefiles can be loaded onto handheld GPS devices.  
  • We deliver results in less than 24 hours. Since time is of the essence when it comes to detasseling, we capture images during the day and provide actionable reports before 6 AM next morning. This way, you can plan the day of your detasseling team in the most efficient way.  

Figure 5 – Proofminder report: field overview with exact GPS coordinates of each missed tassel

Coordinates of missed tassels of hybrid corn

Figure 6 – Exportable reports for the detasseling team

Your involvement  

  • Image Capture: If you opt to take the images yourself, we will require high-definition images taken at a specific height and angle. We will provide the necessary specifications and handle the rest once we receive the images.  
  • Proofminder’s Image Gathering Service: Alternatively, if you prefer, we can manage the entire image gathering process. All we need is a contour of the field in question and information regarding the sowing direction.  
Image gathering with DJI drone

Figure 7 – Image gathering, flying over the corn field 

Drone image gathering for missed tassel identification in corn

Figure 8 – Image gathering using DJI Drone

About Proofminder 

Proofminder enables Agroindustry players to transition to plant- and leaf-level farming. Leveraging AI to extract actionable insights from drone images, we provide growers with invaluable information about every square centimeter of their fields, across the entire season.  

We collaborate with both growers, including agriholdings and farmers, cultivating corn seeds, as well as seed producers. Numerous top seed producers already entrust us with their detasseling efforts.  

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to address your detasseling challenges and stay ahead of the curve.

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