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Aerial Sensing in Agriculture

Coffs Coast Aerial Drone Services

Aerial Sensing in Agriculture

CCADS drone use in Agriculture

Aerial Sensing in Agriculture

quadcopter Coffs Coast Aerial Drone Services
What if I told you there was a way to better deliver the accurate data needed to maximise your yield, accelerate your selective breeding process, spot the early onset of pests and disease and reduce your chemical/spraying costs? Well there is a way..
Agriculture using drones at Coffs Harbour Drones

How are RPA's used within the Agriculture Industry?

Next to aerial imagery, the agriculture industry is the 2nd  largest sector to implement RPA technology and systems. At a very brisk rate of development we are seeing more and more specialised payloads being developed specifically for Agriculture. Lets take a closer look why…

The demand for food production and consumption is increasing substantially, putting world food supply at all time high and commodity prices at an all time-low. The constantly increasing population and food demand has coaxed farmers and agronomists to shift from traditional methods of evaluating and managing farm environments that are highly complex, time-consuming and labour-intensive to smart farming practices that are focused on leveraging data to ensure better resource management, operational efficiency and profitability.  

Furthermore, climate change, crop disease and pest control are ongoing challenges that continue to add new layers of complexity and risks for farmers and growers and those in the supply chain industry. Lack of or limited access to technology, data and market research services further aggravate these challenges for many small farmers. Thankfully, a new wave of digitalisation has hit the agriculture industry over the recent years – resulting in increased adoption of RPA’s by farmers and agribusinesses alike to protect their crops, add more efficiency and convenience to various farm activities and ensure greater profitability. In particular the use of Multi-spectral sensors and RPA’s

Drone over a coffs harbour paddock

Define multispectral. The colours we see in light are defined by the wavelength of that light. Plants absorb and reflect light differently depending on these wavelength. Plants typically absorb blue light and red light, while reflecting some green light. They also reflect a much larger amount of near-infrared (NIR) light, which is not visible to the human eye. With the use of multi-spectral sensors we are able to measure and see this wavelength and much more.

By measuring the reflectance of a plant at different wavelengths, multispectral imaging enables identification of areas of stress in a crop, and provides a quantitative metric for the vigor of a plant. 

How do multispectral cameras work? Multispectral cameras work by imaging different wavelengths of light via a series of sensors, each sensor is specifically set to a particular light wavelength, each sensor captures data within their own wavelength by way of imagery. All of the images are then stitched together to create a large map layer with all of the separate individual layers within it. (See more about mapping here) Depending on what type of multi-spectral sensor you use to collect the data will depend on how it is processed but generally speaking it involves mathematical algorithms and formula’s to form vegetation indices.

What are Vegetation Indices?? (VIs) are combinations of surface reflectance at two or more wavelengths designed to highlight a particular property of vegetation biomass and/or plant vigour.

What are the real world applications and advantages? There are many advantages that can be discovered when the correct algorithms and processing is applied. For example. If you are undertaking a selective breeding program with fruit trees, crops or similar with multiple breeds or hybrids. By utilising multi-spectral imaging and processing you can accelerate the breeding program by identifying traits early from emergence. Once validated by continued analytics it will improve the growers ability to characterise plant development and continue to discover desirable metrics and gain new perspectives through intuitive data-rich visualisations through to full season maturity.

Drones carrying multispectral cameras are ideally suited to improve the efficiencies of just about any agricultural operation. When the data from multispectral cameras is analyzed, it can provide a wide range of information leading to better plant health and soil management.

These cameras can identify certain plant diseases, common pests, fungus, and weeds. Accurate plant counts also provide information on the overall health of a crop. These counts also help with estimating crop yield. Diseased plants can be treated or removed before others are infected.

Additionally, regarding plant health, the information generated from multispectral cameras can be used to plan the use of pesticides and water better. Using too much spray or water can be bad for the environment and costly. Not enough of either could be the cause of losing an entire crop. The near centimeter accuracy of multispectral cameras highlights the needs of each plant. Farmers can target where resources are needed the most.

Soil fertility is another prominent role for this technology. In the past, soil analysis could only be conducted by manually taking soil samples and analyzing them in a lab. This method is costly and prevents farmers from making real-time changes to improve their operations.

Multispectral cameras can detect levels of nitrates, carbon, and identify other soil nutrient deficiencies. This information can help identify where nutrients need to be replaced and assist in better crop rotation.

To find out more or to see how we can implement some of the above strategies into your farming operation, get in contact with us today.

The image we see here is an indication of the crossing of wavelengths and removal of weeds to prepare for plant count by software

Coffs Coast Aerial Drones multispectral imaging
Author: ccads

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