There are a lot of advantages of taking hundreds of aerial pictures of your crop and having them stitched all together to create an orthomosaic. Using a special modified HD camera called an NDVI camera our system will fly a pre planned grid cover your crop fields from approximately 250 feet altitude. As the drone is flying autonomously it is programmed to capture images at certain intervals. To give you an example a quarter section will take about 30 minutes and will record approximately 700 images. Upon landing the memory card is removed and the pictures are up loaded to a cloud based server where algorithms are applied and the images are then stitched together and ready to be download in about 4-6 hours.
NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) is a way of visualising crop health by measuring how well the crop reflects the light it doesn’t need for normal growth. It’s one of many vegetation index models but the most commonly-used model for accurate aerial crop health imaging.
As plants grow, they absorb light and use it to produce chlorophyll in a process called photosynthesis. They absorb blue light, green light, red light and infrared light, but they really only use the blue and red light to produce the chlorophyll. If the plant is healthy, it reflects most of the green light and all of the infrared light back to the atmosphere. This is why healthy plants look green to our eyes. Although we can’t see the infrared light, it’s reflected back in much higher amounts by the healthy plants, and that’s what we measure with near-infrared (NIR) imaging.
NDVI imaging has lots of different uses. If there’s stress or damage in a crop or field, NDVI will detect it long before you see it with the naked eye (often weeks before, and while you still have a good chance of doing something about it).
The colours in the NDVI imaging will indicate how severely the crop is stressed. In the above image you are seeing a wheat field that has been impacted by an aphid attack. If this field had been imaged two weeks earlier, most of the crop could have been saved. But even at this late stage we are able to show which parts of the crop can still be saved and harvested.
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