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Using Drones for Plant Health Mapping

Our services provide Plant Health Mapping, using the Micasense Altum Multispectral Camera (image top). Micasense are the world leaders for multispectral cameras.
The camera captures 6 digital images simultaneously, that is 5 images at different wavelengths and 1 image in thermal. The 5 wavelengths captured are used for calculating Vegetation Index.
The diagram and video will help explain Multispectral Imaging.
The vegetation index is the ratio of two or more image bands, to compare photosynthetic activity and canopy structural variations of the crop. There are dozens of vegetation indices that can be calculated from the images captured.
One index commonly used is Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). NDVI is one of the most suitable indices to track crop health since it measures photosynthetically active biomass in plants.
This information can assist with identifying plant issues within a crop. Issues such as weak plants, soil issues, irrigation management, and nutrient deficiencies.
Mapping crop health highlights areas that need attention, enables sampling of problem areas (e.g., petiole sampling), provides a measure of affected area and enables crop manager to target problem areas rather than apply a blanket solution to the entire crop.
Mapping crop health highlights areas that need attention, enables sampling of problem areas (e.g., petiole sampling), provides a measure of affected area and enables crop manager to target problem areas rather than apply a apply a blanket solution to the entire crop.
Micasense Altum Multispectral Camera
Diagram of Multispectral Imaging
Our service includes imaging the crop with the multispectral camera and generating vegetation indices maps. The information is supplied to the crop manager, agronomist, horticulturist, or specialist in that crop to identify the problem using the vegetation indices maps and identify a solution. The software can also prepare prescription maps which can be used by, for example, variable spray equipment.
The example below is a vineyard of Pinot Noir. The outlined areas in this map are identifying canopy stress issues due to poor soil conditions. The total area of the vineyard imaged is 15 hectares and the area of underperforming vines is 1.4 hectares or 9%. It is estimated that the vines in the underperfoming areas are producing half the crop of healthy vines. If the healthy vines are producing approx. 15 tonnes per hectare, then the underperforming area is producing approx. 11 tonnes less fruit per season. Hence, at the current Pinot Noir grape prices of $2,000 per tonne, the grower is losing approx. $22,000 per season. This provides the grower with information about areas that need attention and the financial justification to address the issues of this vineyard.