Location: Crop Production Systems ResearchTitle: Development of low-altitude remote sensing systems for crop production management
Submitted to: International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/13/2016
Publication Date: 8/1/2016
Citation: Huang, Y., Thomson, S.J., Brand, H.J., Reddy, K.N. 2016. Development of low-altitude remote sensing systems for crop production management. International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. 9(4):1-11.
Interpretive Summary: Precision agriculture is built on agricultural mechanization and state-of-the-art technologies of geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing. Remote sensing monitors soil, crop growth, weed infestation, insects, diseases, and water status in farm fields to provide data and information to guide management practices in agriculture. Scientists in USDA-ARS Crop Production Systems Research Unit, Stoneville, Mississippi developed remote sensing systems on manned and unmanned airplanes which could fly at low altitudes over crop fields to acquire high resolution imagery. With the high-resolution data the accurate prescription information could be generated to guide the actions to manipulate the within-field variability for high-performance site-specific management. In the paper the systems developed for detection of crop stress caused by various factors are described. The methods and results of crop sensing by the systems are analyzed and compared. The UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)-based system and methods have been studied as an unique supplement to manned aerial systems. The studies on the systems and methods will advance technical development of low-altitude remote sensing for precision agriculture.
Technical Abstract: Precision agriculture accounts for within-field variability for targeted treatment rather than uniform treatment of an entire field. Precision agriculture is built on agricultural mechanization and state-of-the-art technologies of geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing. Remote sensing is used to monitor soil, crop growth, weed infestation, insects, diseases, and water status in farm fields to provide data and information to guide agricultural management practices. Precision agriculture began with mapping of crop fields at different scales to support agricultural planning and decision making. With the development of variable-rate technology, precision agriculture focuses more on tactical actions in controlling variable-rate seeding, fertilizer and pesticide application, and irrigation in real-time or within the crop season instead of mapping a field in one crop season to make decisions for the next crop season. With the development of aerial variable-rate systems, low-altitude airborne systems can provide high-resolution data for prescription variable-rate operations. We have developed airborne systems for multispectral imaging using a number of imaging sensors (cameras). Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide a unique platform for remote sensing of crop fields at slow speeds and low-altitudes. UAVs are efficient and more flexible than manned agricultural airplanes, which often cannot provide images at both low altitude and low speed for capture of high-quality images. UAVs are also more universal in their applicability than agricultural aircraft since the latter are used only in specific regions. This paper presents the low-altitude remote sensing systems developed for detection of crop stress caused by multiple factors. UAVs, as a special platform, are discussed for crop sensing based on our studies.