Use of drones in agriculture

Advanced crop scouting in less time

Agricultural drones provide growers, service providers, and ag researchers a fast and efficient way to scout their crops, identify stress, create treatment plans, track plant growth, and much more.

Using high-resolution RGB cameras and professional multispectral sensors, drones like the WingtraOne can detect and quantify crop health problems early on. These valuable insights can reduce input costs and boost yield.

Lemon trees RGB image Lemon tree multispectral image
Multispectral data from drones reveals field variability invisible to the naked eye, which helps you catch diseases early, respond, and improve your yields. In the image on the right, a vegetation index is shown that is related to chlorophyll content. Red areas mean lower values of chlorophyll, while blue areas mean higher values.
Images: courtesy of MicaSense
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This comprehensive ebook explains how the use of drones in agriculture allows farmers and researchers to conduct advanced scouting in less time. It also features examples of maps produced by drones and explains how they guide crop management.

Benefits of drones and sensors in agriculture

Save time and money

Scout your fields in less time

Drones provide an immediate snapshot of a field in a fraction of the time it would take to scout on foot. Cover hundreds of hectares in a single flight, capturing data that helps detect and identify variability and areas of crop stress.

Precise data on the fields

Capture precise data that drives decisions and actions

Use drone data to generate prescription maps and plans, focusing treatments more efficiently and reducing costs. Gain insights that complement other agronomic tools. E.g., for soil / leaf sampling, instead of randomized sampling, drone data can direct you to the best places to sample, saving time and money.

Tracking data over time

Efficiently track crops over time, for research or production

Track how crops are progressing from emergence through harvest. Accurately monitor fields for phenotyping and other research applications. Periodic capture of calibrated data from professional multispectral sensors offers insights into crop health regardless of illumination changes, giving you the needed data to derive quantitative trends.

Applications of drones and sensors in agriculture

Main applications

Crop scouting

A quality drone and multispectral camera system can detect disease and stress early (sometimes before it is visible from the ground or with standard color cameras). Use this information, coupled with proven agronomic methods, to focus your treatment plans.

Prescription maps can also be generated for automated seeding
Prescription maps can also be generated for automated seeding.
Image: courtesy of Pix4D

Prescription maps and treatment plans

Multispectral data is a key tool that, when combined with other established agronomic methods, enables prescription maps for treatments (fertilizer, herbicide), reducing costs and improving efficiency.

Crop damage assessment and documentation

Drone data provides critical information for measuring and documenting damage to crops caused by floods, fire, pests, weather events, etc. These reports can complement and reinforce insurance claims.

Images: Courtesy of InnoFarm ETH Zurich

Plant counting and crop emergence

High resolution cameras on drones, and plant-counting algorithms can accurately and efficiently provide inventory information, track crop emergence, drive replanting decisions and help predict yield.

Data outputs

RGB color orthomosaic

RGB camera
Multispectral camera
Orthomosaic of a field
Color orthomosaic provides context for interpretation of multispectral data.

A color orthomosaic map is often the first step in scouting. Interpretation is intuitive and can be used to easily detect gaps in the crop and find areas of visible stress while visualizing maturity and growth stages.

Vegetation index maps

Multispectral camera
Multispectral image of a field
Multispectral data outputs in the form of vegetation index maps can help identify problems in a field.

Vegetation indices such as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), normalized difference red edge (NDRE), chlorophyll-based indices (“chlorophyll map”), and other indices (SAVI, OSAVI, etc.) can be used to detect and quantify variability in the field.

Digital surface model (DSM)

RGB camera
Multispectral camera
Digital Surface Model of a field
Terrain models show changes in elevation across a field to aid in water management and planning.

Digital surface models (DSMs) are digital representations of the elevation of the field and crop. They can be used for irrigation planning, water flow analysis, and crop optimization based on slope direction.

False-color band combinations

Multispectral camera
False color Band combinations of a field
Multispectral data can also be displayed as combinations of bands, allowing deeper insights and easier interpretation.

Multispectral data can also be visualized as combinations of three bands, assigning a band to the red, green, and blue colors. This visualization maintains texture and context and reveals hidden patterns, such as the presence of weeds or water-logged soil.

Best drone for agriculture

How does WingtraOne benefit agricultural applications

Large fields, difficult or steep terrain, or lack of smooth surfaces required for take-off and landing: the WingtraOne mapping drone can overcome all these challenges when assessing mid- and large-scale projects while carrying (and protecting) high-quality cameras.

Mapping Drone WingtraOne on a field

Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL)

VTOL capability combined with forward flight means larger coverage area than a multicopter in areas that are not well suited for flying a regular fixed-wing drone.

One drone, many applications

WingtraOne is able to carry high-resolution RGB cameras (42MP) or professional 5-band multispectral cameras and protect these sensors (and your data) during take-off and landing, while still providing broad coverage per flight.

High-resolution data

To capture plant variability at a per-plant level or empower plant counting at earlier stages of growth, WingtraOne enables results with resolutions down to 3.4 cm (1.3 in) per pixel for its multispectral payload and down to an impressive 0.7 cm (0.3 in) per pixel for its flagship RGB camera.

Introduction to multispectral applications with WingtraOne

In this video, you will get an overview of multispectral cameras and learn when and how to use them.
Multispectral images: courtesy of MicaSense.

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