Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #327504

Research Project: Enhancing Environmental Quality and Ecosystem Services in Southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Title: Applications of UAV imagery for agricultural and environmental research at the USDA Southeast Watershed Research Lab

Author
item Coffin, Alisa

Submitted to: Precision Agriculture
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2016
Publication Date: 2/3/2016
Citation: Coffin, A.W. 2016. Applications of UAV imagery for agricultural and environmental research at the USDA Southeast Watershed Research Lab. [ABSTRACT] Precision Agriculture.

Interpretive Summary: The ARS is the USDA's in-house scientific research agency, whose mission is to conduct research to "develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority..." This includes enhancing the natural resource base and the environment, a dimension of particular relevance to the Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory (SEWRL), located in Tifton, GA. The mission of the SEWRL is to "develop the scientific understanding and associated technologies of watershed systems...." The objectives include developing models and information to guide management decisions at field, farm and watershed scales. SEWRL also participates as a Long-term Agroecosystem Research Site. UAV imagery has been used in the SEWRL to map research plots and fields, provide new data from low-cost, high efficiency data sources, and contribute to research models. In the past, SEWRL flew it's own drone, but has not done so since 2008. In 2015, SEWRL contracted two data collection flights to provide RGB and CIR imagery of research fields. CIR flights were timed to coincide with insect sampling dates. CIR was used to derive relative NDVI values across the fields that provide a source of vegetation information for future modeling work. Field data on soils, insects and NDVI were also gathered for the same fields. Work is progressing to compare multispectral satellite imagery with UAV imagery. Potential future research applications for UAVs include further work to provide nested datasets across the plot-field-watershed scale continuum, creating a UAV derived high precision digital elevation model of research fields, and working with multispectral or other sensor types.

Technical Abstract: The ARS is the USDA's in-house scientific research agency, whose mission is to conduct research to "develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority..." This includes enhancing the natural resource base and the environment, a dimension of particular relevance to the Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory (SEWRL), located in Tifton, GA. The mission of the SEWRL is to "develop the scientific understanding and associated technologies of watershed systems...." The objectives include developing models and information to guide management decisions at field, farm and watershed scales. SEWRL also participates as a Long-term Agroecosystem Research Site. UAV imagery has been used in the SEWRL to map research plots and fields, provide new data from low-cost, high efficiency data sources, and contribute to research models. In the past, SEWRL flew it's own drone, but has not done so since 2008. In 2015, SEWRL contracted two data collection flights to provide RGB and CIR imagery of research fields. CIR flights were timed to coincide with insect sampling dates. CIR was used to derive relative NDVI values across the fields that provide a source of vegetation information for future modeling work. Field data on soils, insects and NDVI were also gathered for the same fields. Work is progressing to compare multispectral satellite imagery with UAV imagery. Potential future research applications for UAVs include further work to provide nested datasets across the plot-field-watershed scale continuum, creating a UAV derived high precision digital elevation model of research fields, and working with multispectral or other sensor types.