The agricultural industry was one of the first to recognise the benefits of drone technology. Farmers have been using drones for a number of years now to collect real-time data to help them improve crop yields, identify pests and increase efficiency. But to collect the required data three sensors are required: multispectral, thermal and RGB.
This creates an issue for farmers who have to manage the collection, synchronisation and processing of all this data across the three platforms. MicaSense was one of the first companies to recognise the problem and attempted to solve it with the release of its RedEdge multispectral sensor.
RedEdge introduced 5 band multispectral imaging allowing accurate data to be collected and calibrated across different light conditions. While RedEdge greatly improved workflow and synchronicity it didn’t provide thermal data which is vital for collecting accurate crop health data.
A 3 in 1 solution specifically designed for agriculture
With the launch of the MicaSense Altum, MicaSense has taken RedEdge technology to the next level by combining RGB, thermal and multispectral sensors in a single compact and lightweight unit. This allows synchronous 6-Band capture from a single flight with the data from all three sensors combined into a single dataset.
Image resolution is also greatly improved, thanks to the high-resolution RGB camera. At a typical 400 ft operating altitude the MicaSense Altum provides 5cm resolution across all bands. This is a significant improvement over other multispectral imaging solutions which typically have to fly at around 250 ft to get the same level of leaf or branch detail.
When vegetation mapping, operators also need to be able to accurately measure the amount of light reflected off the leaves to help measure the crop’s overall health and stress levels. To do this accurately, data needs to be collected from both light sensors (irradiance) and an RGB camera (radiance). Both data sets then need to be calibrated to create accurate plant health data.
To help improve the quality of light data the Altum uses a new DL S2 sensor which takes 20 light measurements 8 thousand times per second during flight. This data is then tagged to each individual image to provide horizontal corrected radiance along with direct and diffuse irradiance.
This allows operators to compensate for direct light (light from the sun) and diffuse light (reflected light) creating accurate data sets for analysis. The DL S2 also comes with integrated GPS so operators no longer have to worry about alignment between two different systems to get accurate position data.
Why choose the MicaSense Altum?
The MicaSense Altum sensor provides a number of advantages for plant growers of all sizes. The three onboard sensors allow operators to carry out a number of agricultural tasks, including phenotyping, water stress analysis, crop health mapping, leak management, fertilizer management, disease identification and zone mapping.
The calibration of the data allows growers to easily monitor plants from one week to the next. This makes it simple for operators to monitor plant health by correlating irradiance and radiance levels along with leaf coverage over a period of several weeks. Something that would be all but difficult to achieve using separate systems.
The MicaSense Altum is also a completely integrated solution with its own GPS allowing it to be fitted to any commercial grade drone including multi-rotor and fixed-wing aircraft. Altum also offers plug and play integration with DJI Skyport and can be adapted to fit custom builds if required.
Finally, the multisensor approach not only generates efficiency gains by allowing multiple datasets to be collected from a single flight. It is also more cost-effective than having to purchase individual RGB, thermal and multispectral sensors. That makes the MicaSense Altum the most efficient and cost-effective agricultural sensor on the market today.
To find out more about Altum or to arrange a demo flight, get in touch with the agricultural specialists at COPTRZ today on 0330 111 7177.
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