Date Announced: 01 Feb 2021
From Quantum Design UK and Ireland, distributor for Raptor Photonics in the UK and Ireland
Forage Mass Monitoring (FFM) analysis has been traditionally done using biomass sampling to calculate biomass yield per hectare (t ha-1). Current research projects are now looking at reflectance spectroscopy methods using remote sensing systems based on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Promising results in recent years prove the principal suitability of such systems for airborne monitoring of small to medium sized farmland in agricultural applications for precision agriculture, such as biomass for crops and grasslands. An imaging system in the form of a multispectral multicamera system is often used to derive well-established vegetation indices (VIs) efficiently. However, due to the use of silicon-based sensors, the spectral application range of such multi-camera systems is limited to the visible (VIS) and near-infrared (NIR) wavelength range (400-1000nm). Therefore, more robust indicators linked to biomass in the short-wave infrared (like cellulose or moisture content) cannot be considered as estimators.
In a joint research project, a team from the University of Applied Science Koblenz and the Remote Sensing and GIS group at the University of Cologne developed a UAV-based multi-camera system to collect NIR/SWIR data, to prove more robust and better-performing estimators of biomass monitoring. The system displayed in figure 1 shows a spectral camera unit (SCU) and a sensor management unit (SMU), both mounted onto a drone solution. The SCU deploys two Raptor Owl 640 M Vis-SWIR cameras enabling the coverage from 600 to 1700 nm of the electromagnetic spectrum. These camera modules were chosen because of their optimised “Size, Weight and Power” parameters. Thanks to the small form factor, the energy-efficient uncooled (TEC-less) design and the high sensitivity, these modules are ideal for integrating multiple camera modules into a lightweight, UAV-based remote sensing system for daylight operations. Another advantage is the interchangeable lens mount used for a custom filter flange solution to adapt application-specific narrow bandpass filters in the optical path.
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