Agriculture UAV Crop Dusters

What Is Vegetation Index Vigor NDVI Technology
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MRCD24 Multi-Rotor Sprayer
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How UAV Sprayers Work 
What is Vegetation Index Vigor
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UAV Role In Agriculture
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FAA Grants UAV Permits for Agriculture & Real Estate Companies - The Associated Press reports that on Tuesday, the FAA issued exceptions to the commercial UAV ban, permitting the monitoring of crops and real estate use for aerial photographs of properties for sale. This is the first time permits have been granted to agriculture and real estate companies.

FAA Poised to Include Limitations on Hobbyist UAVs - The FAA is proposing to amend its regulations to adopt specific rules for the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS). .

Judge Rules Against FAA in ‘Landmark’ UAV Challenge -  In a decision dated March 6, NTSB Judge Patrick Geraghty found that the FAA has no regulations that apply to model aircraft or that classify a model aircraft as an unmanned aircraft system.

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What is Vegetation Index Vigor?

A vegetation index (also called a vegetative index) is a single number that quantifies vegetation biomass and/or plant vigor for each pixel in a remote sensing image. The index is computed using several spectral bands that are sensitive to plant biomass and vigor. The most common vegetation index is the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). NDVI compares the reflectance values of the red and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum using the following formula: NDVI=NIR-RED/NIR+RED NIR is the pixel's reflectence value in the near-infrared band RED is the pixel's reflectence value in the red band The NDVI value, which ranges from -1.0 to 1.0 for each pixel in an image, helps identify areas of varying levels of plant biomass/vigor. Higher values indicate high biomass/high vigor.

Evaluating the difference between the normalized difference vegetation index and net primary productivity as the indicators of vegetation vigor assessment at landscape scale.

Both the net primary productivity (NPP) and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) are commonly used as indicators to characterize vegetation vigor, and NDVI has been used as a surrogate estimator of NPP in some cases. To evaluate the reliability of such surrogation, here we examined the quantitative difference between NPP and NDVI in their outcomes of vegetation vigor assessment at a landscape scale. Using Landsat ETM+ data and a process model, the Boreal Ecosystem Productivity Simulator, NPP distribution was mapped at a resolution of 90 m, and total NDVI during the growing season was calculated in Heihe River Basin, Northwest China in 2002. The results from a comparison between the NPP and NDVI classification maps show that there existed a substantial difference in terms of both area and spatial distribution between the assessment outcomes of these two indicators, despite that they are strongly correlated. The degree of difference can be influenced by assessment schemes, as well as the type of vegetation and ecozone. Overall, NDVI is not a good surrogate of NPP as the indicators of vegetation vigor assessment in the study area. Nonetheless, NDVI could serve as a fairish surrogate indicator under the condition that the target region has low vegetation cover and the assessment has relatively coarse classification schemes (i.e., the class number is small). It is suggested that the use of NPP and NDVI should be carefully selected in landscape assessment. Their differences need to be further evaluated across geographic areas and biomes.

Global Vegetation Index Products

The third generation polar Global Vegetation Index (GVI) products are used for monitoring the density and vigor of green vegetation. Useful applications of GVI products include classifying land cover, estimating crop acreage, and detecting plant stress.
The GVI products now online are weekly composites, and have a resolution of about 16 km. Also available are the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, Fractional Vegetation, and the Precipitable Water Index products.

GVI - Normalized Difference Vegetation Index

The basic index for measuring the 'greeness' of the earth's surface is the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is basically a calculation of the differences between AVHRR channels 1 and 2. A reasonable estimation of the density and coverage of green vegetation can be determined by measuring how green the earth's surface is.

NDVI values range from -.1 to .703 and are unitless. Values greater than .1 generally denote increasing degrees in the greeness and intensity of vegetation. Values between 0 and .1 are commonly characteristic of rocks and bare soil, and values less than 0 sometimes indicate clouds, rain, and snow.

NOTE: Low values of NDVI do not necessarily denote lack of vegetation. For example, during the winter months deciduous forests may appear more orange than green.

GVI - Fractional Vegetation

Fractional vegetation is essentially NDVI displayed as a fraction (or a percentage if the fractional vegetation values are multiplied by 100%). NDVI values less than or equal to .07 are set to 0.0 and NDVI values greater or equal to .57 are set to 1.0 (NDVI values between .07 and .57 increase linearly from 0.0 to 1.0 as fractional vegetation).

GVI - Precipitable Water Index

The Precipitable Water Index (PWI), otherwise known as the brightness temperature difference, is the difference between AVHRR channels 4 and 5. PWI is a measurement of how much water vapor is in the atmosphere (lower K values denote higher concentrations of water vapor). Since AVHRR channels 4 and 5 are volume sampled from the top of the atmosphere to the surface, PWI, to an extent, measures the total column precipitable water in the atmosphere (Steve Olson, 1997).

Please note that PWI is not the same as relative humidity, which measures the percentage of water vaper over the amount of water vapor needed for saturation at a given temperature.


Is an agronomist required?

No an agronomist is not required to read the data as many large scale farmers are quite familiar with NDVI and they have been using Farm Management software that will create management zones and prescriptions as well as satellite based NDVI imagery for many years. However, there is a misconception in the UAV industry which is NDVI will tell you exactly what is wrong in your field.

The reality is that the NDVI vegetation index is a crop health indicator telling you if the field is healthy and doing well or if it is stressed and the locations (i.e GPS markers) of the stress and total areas or acres stressed. Stress can be caused by numerous different causes including but not limited to: too much water, water drought, pest infestation, nitrogen leaching, hail damage, wind damage, fire damage, diseases...all of these can be stressors. The agronomist/farmer/scout can get an aerial view of the field quickly and then go pinpoint the locations to investigate to see what is causing the crop to be stressed. So we like to think of the UAV/payload/software as a tool in the ag professionals toolbox.

 Not only does it minimize compaction in the field but the largest advantage that Sentek sees is from a biology standpoint with the current glyphosate resistance issues due to the Roundup Ready era. According to Kim Salant of Sentek, "when attending many conference proceedings at Commodity Classic last year there were several presentations given by farmers especially in southern states right now that had applied roundup on everything for a few years. They said they thought they had 15 years before the weeds would start to evolve and become resistant. However in only a few years the weeds rapidly evolved and became resistant and there were farmers there saying they now have entire fields covered 100% in weeds and there is currently no technology on the market that will allow them to plant crop again. There are mitigation techniques that are now being recommended by the Monsanto R&D researchers which is rotating crops and pesticides and herbicides to maximize the amount of time you have before this happens. We see that if you could put together a plan with crop rotation, as well as rotating herbicides, along with selectively spraying only the locations in need this will prolong the life of the chemical to ensure its effectiveness. Anyways this may help put it in terms the farmer may understand since they are living through these problems right now! "

The manufacture reps at Sentek, the makers of the GENS all-in-one hardware/software package is also available to talk to the potential customers and explain that selectively spraying their field has many strategic advantages.

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