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Drone upgrade improves crop image accuracy in cloudy conditions

More accurate analysis of drone-captured data – regardless of cloud cover – is in prospect, following the latest development by crop monitoring technology specialist Sentera.

Incident light sensing has been added to the US company’s normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) crop sensing package, alongside an upgrade to its AgVault data management software.

Kris Poulson, Sentera vice-president of agriculture, points out that researchers measure the colour spectrum of incident light from the sun to compensate for common environmental factors such as shifting clouds, haze and fluctuating solar intensity.

See also: Drone sensor detects hard-to-spot disease in vines

With the Sentera ILS option, agronomists, crop consultants and growers can now do the same, comparing images of the same area captured over time and making in-field decisions based on more accurate data.

Handy addition

This feature will be especially useful when there are large fields to manage and to users who face unpredictable weather patterns or simply want the best data, says Mr Poulson.

Drone upgrade improves crop image accuracy in cloudy conditions

Sentera NDVI single sensor installed on DJI Inspire. Photo: Sentera

 

“Variances identified between compensated NDVI data are more likely to indicate a true change, like a physical or chemical change in the plant or crop, instead of a change that’s simply due to a picture captured on a sunny day versus a cloudy day,” he points out.

Sentera’s new Incident Light Sensor is available with the company’s TrueNDVI sensing package for new or in-service DJI Phantom 4, Phantom 3 and Inspire drones.

Drone upgrade improves crop image accuracy in cloudy conditions

Sentera NDVI single sensor installed on DJI Phantom Pro drone rotorcraft. Photo: Sentera

 

The NDVI sensing upgrade alone is also now available for the Mavic mini-drone rotorcraft, which features a sophisticated gimbal-mounted camera.

Despite being only one-sixth the size of other DJI craft, its 4 high-efficiency motors can cope with the added weight of the crop scouting conversion with about 27 minutes of flight time.