Benefits of farming with a UAV

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles can obtain a vast array of aerial data by flying over an agricultural fields. The type of data the UAV collects largely depends on the camera system the UAV is carrying.

Aerial Drones can supply a ready to fly (RTF) or bespoke solution offering UAVs to carry consumer grade cameras that collect high-resolution still images and video or specialised cameras to capture NDVI data for example.

Once the images are captured and the UAV has surveyed the field, the user then views the images or footage to identify abnormal spots that may need focused attention for problems related to water / drainage, nutrients, pests, weeds or other disease related issues.

It helps farmers do more with less. It helps them to see things before they would otherwise see them and be able to react more precisely and more rapidly.

Fact Sheet

precision_agriculture_factsheet

Utilising UAVs for Digital Imaging Analysis

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are an exciting new remote sensing tool capable of acquiring high spatial resolution data. Our UAVs are capable of collecting hyper resolution visible, multispectral, and thermal imagery for application in Precision agriculture. Traditional modes of data collection are not well suited to the detection of subtle but important changes in plant structure given low spatial resolutions.

Mapping with UAVs has the potential to provide imagery at an unprecedented spatial resolution. Our UAVs have several payload options including visible imagery, which is processed using feature matching and photogrammetric techniques to create Digital Surface Models (DSMs). A thermal infrared camera can be used to map soil moisture enabling assessment of irrigation efficiency, and multispectral camera enables the calculation of vegetation indices that relate to vegetation vigour and health.

The highest spatial resolution data available from conventional platforms such as satellites and manned aircraft is typically in the range of 20-100 cm/pixel. UAVs are capable of flying much lower and hence can collect imagery at a much higher resolution, even as detailed as 1 cm/pixel. The Temporal information of conventional systems is limited by the availability of aircraft platforms and orbit coverage patterns of satellites. For the purpose of monitoring highly dynamic vegetation such as that within vineyards, satellite sensors are very much limited due to unfavourable re-visit times.

The versatility of the UAV system is further enhanced by the fact that the data can be collected “on-demand”, providing unprecedented Temporal information that spans the critical times in the crop growing season. The imagery produced from UAV collected data has a spatial resolution generally from 2 to 5 cm/pixel.

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index – NDVI Imaging

Plants typically absorb visible blue and visible red light while reflecting green and Near Infrared (NIR) light. The reason we see a plant as green is because it is reflecting the green light to our eyes. Plants also reflect the NIR light because the infrared light doesn’t have enough energy to support photosynthesis. Healthy plants reflect green and NIR while absorbing blue and red light. As plants become sick, they don’t reflect green and NIR as well. There is a mathematical algorithm (ENDVI) that works in conjunction with a special camera that captures both visible and infrared bands of light. By processing the picture with ENDVI algorithm, you get a new picture that shows where plants are happy and where they are not.

NDVI is one of the most successful of many attempts to simply and quickly identify vegetated areas and their “condition,” and it remains the most well-known and used index to detect live green plant canopies in multispectral remote sensing data. Once the feasibility to detect vegetation had been demonstrated, users tended to also use the NDVI to quantify the photosynthetic capacity of plant canopies.

NDVI can provide

  • Plant Stress Health
  • Fertilizer Optimisation
  • Plant disease diagnosis
  • Insect & Pest plant diagnosis
  • Help Develop farm plan
  • Guide cultivation plan
  • Develop harvest plan based on vigor

Drones And Tractors Work Side By Side

Diseased crops or livestock can cost a farmer his livelihood for the season. So having earlier information about when a disease or another stress, like a pest or drought, is taking hold is extremely valuable.

In agriculture, that’s part of the promise that drone technology brings. Up until recently, drones have been associated with the military and war, and lately, with DIY hobbyists too. But drones (aka unmanned aerial vehicles) for large-scale commercial uses are now poised to lift off in the U.S. in a big way.


Farm Industry News

There’s no ignoring the buzz surrounding UAV use in precision agriculture. The potential in the crop scouting process to identify problem areas in fields almost immediately will provide major opportunities for farmers and agronomists in the future. Full feature can be read HERE.

Successful Farming

DRONES make the front cover of “Successful Farming” magazine