Doll is on the cutting edge of another agricultural technology: the use of drones for aerial imaging to determine orchard water stress. The project is still in its early stages, but Doll sees the potential.
“Right now, to measure stress, we need to monitor moisture in the soil or in individual leaves,” Doll said. “It’s labor intensive and you can’t cover a lot of ground; maybe a dozen trees. Our goal is to be able to fly over the orchard and get an idea of the whole orchard’s water stress status.”
California farmers produce 100 percent of the United State's almonds. Almonds are the second-highest export crop for the state.
An accomplished 4-H member
Doll was in 4-H for seven years and an active member of Future Farmers of America in high school, serving as president his senior year. Despite all the exposure to agriculture, he said, it wasn’t until he worked in a greenhouse nursery that he got interested in agricultural science.
“That’s when I started engaging in my family’s farm,” he said. “I wanted to figure out why we did certain things.”
His curiosity prompted him to study plant biology at Purdue University, where he assisted in the lab of a plant pathology professor who earned his doctorate at UC Davis. When Doll completed his bachelor's degree, he enrolled in graduate school at UC Davis at his mentor’s suggestion.
“I had wondered how I could help make the world a better place. That’s a 4-H carryover,” Doll said. “You can move away from problems, or you can move toward them. I made a commitment to the community of Merced.”