Reflectance sensors on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones or tractor front mountings capture images that are used to estimate above ground biomass (AGB) and crop density through the use of complex computer algorithms. Thanks to how this reflects crop growth status and to predict yield and grain quality, above ground biomass can be used to precisely adjust inputs such as fertilisers, plant growth regulators and fungicides.
How it Works
Optical satellite remote sensing, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors provide the three main sources of remotely sensed data for biomass estimation. These sensors all pick up reflected light of specific wavelengths relevant to crop growth and health and can be used in either isolation or combination. They operate in 3-10 multispectral wavelength bands, including red, blue, green, infrared and ultraviolet light.
In simple terms, data collected on the amount of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed by the crop is used to indirectly estimate biomass (and yield potential) based on the given crop type and growth stage. Recent sensor innovations allow detection of 242 hyperspectral wavelength bands which expand the resolution of crop characteristics to the chemical level.
Rate of change differential within a field being used to indicate where agronomic investigations should be made.
Farmer / Agronomist Benefits
Crop biomass remote sensing allows precision management of crop canopies and in-field variability through GPS linked machinery, and when linked with algorithms using regional and/or on-farm data can also be used as a yield predictor.
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