Integrated Systems Research and Development in Automation and Sensors for Sustainability of Specialty Crops
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Commercial off-the shelf systems of UAVs and sensors are touted as being able to collect remote-sensing data on crops that include spectral reflectance, plant height, and canopy temperature. Historically a great deal of effort has gone into quantifying and reducing the error levels in the geometry of UAV-based orthomosaics, but little effort has gone into quantifying and reducing the error of the reflectance, plant-height, and canopy-temperature measurements themselves. We have been developing systems and protocols involving multifunctional GCPs (ground-control points) in order to produce crop phenotypic data that are as repeatable as possible. These multifunctional GCPs aid not only geometric correction, but also image-mosaic calibration of reflectance, plant-height, and potentially canopy-temperature data. The systems and protocols we are developing are focused on large-scale row-crop production, so broad-acre coverage and practical usability are key ingredients. So far, we have shown that we can reduce reflectance errors by roughly 40% and errors in plant height by roughly 20%. We believe through continued development these error reductions will increase, such that broad-acre phenotypic data can be collected with a high level of repeatability. We are also working on incorporating temperature calibration into the system so that canopy temperature can be measured precisely and accurately.