Agricultural Solutions

Smart drone technology to capture high resolution terrain modelling and volumetrics and spectral information

We provide aerial data services for assessing crop health, plant vigour, potential yield, weeds, pests, diseases and most importantly to enable farmers to make strategic decisions at every stage of production.

The advantages of using drones

  • Greater Precision: drone cameras take centimetre-level images that reveal much more detail about a crop’s condition and any anomalies
  • High Resolution: invaluable for farmers wanting to do targeted weed control or to get accurate topography to map out sprinkler systems
  • Cheaper Imaging: for paddocks under 50 hectares in size, drones are considerably less expensive than satellites or manned aircraft surveillance
  • Earlier Detection of Problems: because drones can survey more frequently, under-watering, diseases, weeds, pests and other abnormalities are detected earlier
  • Contour Mapping: drones can map 20cm contours for contour tilling and seeding which is now an integral part of sustainable farming
  • Whole of Paddock Observation: instead of driving a 4WD or riding an ATV around the perimeter to view perhaps 5% of a field, now 100% of every field can be examined in detail using drones.
  • Less Disruption: UAVs don’t compress soil, do not normally disturb stock and provide wide observation in a fraction of the time taken by 4WD or motorbike
  • Faster Intervention: The above two advantages enable farmers to identify problems faster and react more quickly which can save thousands of dollars in crop losses per paddock
  • 3D/Volumetric Data: drone images can be used to calculate the volume of grain and silage stockpiles, dams, holes, hills, creeks, erosion and anomalous patches. These can be compared to infrared images to detect density issues like hot spots crowded beet field or potato bin, or to identify contour problems such as south slope shade issues or to optimise irrigation and drainage plans
  • More Frequent Index Reporting drones offer a cost-effective way to monitor crops more frequently for key indices like CCCI (canopy chlorophyll content index), CWSI (crop water stress index) and NDVI (normalised differential vegetation index)
  • Risk Management by combining family records of rainfall and yield history with easily repeated UAV flight data stored and tabulated, crop yields can be more accurately benchmarked and forecast, futures contracts made more confidently and financing for seeds and farm equipment more strongly justified with less risk
  • Short term management: In broad acre farming margins are slim compared to high value crops. A typical family farmer only gets 40 seasons to get things right, so every extra bit of knowledge helps with every season. Flying a drone weekly provides evidence-based decision support around planting, replanting, fertilising, forward selling and harvesting
  • Long-term management: The data generated by drones help farmers gain a more accurate and detailed picture of how their crops are reacting to their management strategies, which directly contributes to more effective use of limited resources
We start with the outcome in mind to provide high level, high quality, decision making information for the client to act on.

Drone Agricultural Applications

Yield Predictions

Crop Emergence

Frost Damage

Crop Insurance

Soil type mapping

Water point data collection

Vermin Control

Mustering

Mustering

The right equipment

Fixed Wing UAVs.  Fixed-wing UAVs are the best choice to survey a lot of ground, fast. The SciAero FarScight can cover up to 10 times the acreage that a typical quadcopter can cover in a single flight and captures the same survey-grade 3D / topographic detail that a quadcopter does. Fixed wing drones often carry more payload than a multi-rotor – which means more sensors – so more information can be captured in a single flight. These are typically used for broadacre crops such as wheat, barley, canola, sugar cane and sorghum.

Multirotors. A multirotor drone is a better choice than a fixed wing drone for close-in, precision, surveying spotting and tasks in precision agriculture.  In precision agriculture, the goal of producing maximum yield is achieved by minimising variability of crop health within, and across, paddocks. Multi rotors are ideal for spot-checking known weak areas and trouble spots more closely. So, multi rotors are typically used for used for high value crops such as vineyards and stone fruit orchards where, for example, irrigation leak or blockage detection is critical.

The Tradeoffs. Flying a multi rotor drone, low and slow, gives you far more control over every image shot. As a result, accuracy and resolution are often better than fixed wing UAVs can deliver. The trade-off is far less range and coverage per flight. Most multi rotor ag drones can’t cover more than 50 acres between charges / battery swaps.

Sensors.
SciAero has a range of sensors to capture visual, thermal/IR and multispectral, data down to a 2cm/pixel resolution.  Hyperspectral and LIDAR sensors are also available from other service providers.  When combined with truth of soil data, repeat flight data can be collated to track crop changes, the changes needed can then be quantified and costed.

Data Processing. Having captured the imagery, it is then processed to create survey quality contour and 3D maps, digital surface and terrain models, geotagged vegetation index maps, plant counts, plant height, moisture levels, soil temp and orthomosaics.  That’s a lot of data processing producing outputs that a home PC probably can’t do, so SciAero can provide that as a service on site, at a farm, or overnight in the cloud if a datalink is available.

The Outputs. The index maps then generate prescription maps which can then be uploaded to the FMIS system or seeder, spreader, tractor, combine harvester or header for sowing, watering, fertilising, nitrogen optimisation, weed control yield monitoring and harvest timing.  The data can be further processed using other index map solutions such as SMS, AgPixel, ArcGIS, and other GIS systems to produce other data ‘layers’.

Altitude Imaging has been providing professional aerial drone services since 2012.
We are Certified, Accredited and Approved to national and international standards.