Crop height monitoring using a consumer-grade camera and UAV Technology
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Recent advances in the ability to capture high spatial resolution images by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have shown the potential of this technology for a wide range of application including exploring the effects of different external stimuli when monitoring environmental and structural variables. In this paper, we show the application of UAV technology for crop height monitoring and modelling to provide quantitative crop growth data and demonstrate the remote sensing and photogrammetric capabilities of the technology to the farming industry. This study was carried out in a field trial involving a combination of six wheat varieties and three different fungicide treatments. The UAV imagery of the field trial site was captured on five occasions throughout crop development. These were used to create digital surface models from which crop surface models (CSMs) were extracted for the cropped areas. Crop heights are estimated from the photogrammetric derived CSMs and are compared against the reference heights captured using Real-Time Kinematic Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to validate the CSMs. Furthermore, crop growth differences among varieties are analysed; and crop height correlations with grain yield as well as with independently estimated vegetation indices are evaluated. These evaluations show that the technology is suitable (with average bias range 2–10 cm depending on wind conditions relative to GNSS height) and has potential for quantitative and qualitative monitoring of canopy and/or crop height and growth.
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