Crop circles may tell us a lot about extraterrestrial life (!) but what can markings in crops captured using drones tell us about human history?
The research of an academic, Henry Webber at Bristol University, has been of great interest to me as an academic and farmers son. He research was into markings in the surface of crops caused, sometimes, by relics buried under the surface of the topsoil. Such remains could lead to an inballance in soil nutrition, for example an excessive amount of nitrogen. As a result the plants in these areas of the crops could be taller, shorter or a different colour than other areas of the crop.
For many years my father has spoken of certain areas of the cop where it is possible to distinguish squares, oblongs, triangles or lines. These tend to suggest human activity of some sort. Possibly a former hedgerow, an old barn, possibly even a farmhouse or pub – who knows?
Using the drone on a clear and sunny day it was possible to scan the surface of the crops. As you can see from the below pictures and video footage, ‘something lies beneath’. There are clearly lines and oblong shapes that indicate something is different in soil qualities or consistency.
We will be looking at this more in the future. An exciting development is that we have (only) recently discovered how to tilt the camera on the drone to get a more vertical view of the land surface. What is exciting, nevertheless, is that these advanced technologies will give us a greater understanding of Britains history at a more local farmland sites around the United Kingdom.
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