Quantifying Crop Trends with Drones and Accurate NDVI Mapping

Webinar Recap: Identifying crop trends over time using multispectral imagery, SLANTRANGE, and DroneDeploy

Drone pilots mapping for agriculture can choose from a variety of hardware options. While most begin with the visible spectrum (RGB) cameras that come standard on drones like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, many turn to sensors designed specifically for agriculture in order to perform more accurate, scientific analysis of plant health.

In July, we announced our support for SLANTRANGE multispectral sensors. DroneDeploy customers can now fly and capture imagery and process and interpret maps using sensors from SLANTRANGE — all compatible with the latest DJI drones.

Last week, we held a webinar with Matthew Barre from SLANTRANGE to dig deeper into what this means for our users. During the webinar, we discussed how you can use DroneDeploy along with SLANTRANGE sensors to collect multispectral imagery of your fields and quantify crop trends with NDVI field maps. There are many reasons to consider using multispectral imagery on the farm for crop scouting and analysis, which we talked about during the webinar.

If you missed the live webinar, no sweat. You can watch the entire recording here to learn how to put SLANTRANGE and DroneDeploy to work in the field.

Understanding the Basics of Multispectral Imagery and the NDVI Plant Health Algorithm

There are some clear advantages to using near-infrared and multispectral imagery when flying your fields. For those who are new to this technology, we took a look at the basics and highlighted a few reasons you might want to consider upgrading your UAV system to a multispectral sensor, like the SLANTRANGE 3P.

Multispectral sensors provide increased accuracy when comparing plant health data over time, which is a major benefit over visible spectrum cameras. This is helpful when you’re trying to identify trends beyond a single point in time — such as throughout the course of a crop in season. These sensors typically capture some combination of visible and near-infrared light using narrow filters to increase the sensitivity and specificity of the measurements. This added capability allows you to select which bands of light you want to focus on to conduct your crop analysis. Learn more by watching the webinar recording.

New to crop scouting with drones? Learn the basics in our latest eBook.

Making Actionable Crop Data More Available to Growers

You hear a lot about ‘actionable data’ in the agriculture industry. From human scouting to satellite imagery, to drones, there are many ways of collecting crop data. But how available is that data? Drones and sensor technology from SLANTRANGE help growers and agronomists access multispectral crop imagery on demand, and make sense of that data through the application of computer vision and machine learning. Paired with the DroneDeploy platform, you can go out and fly your fields, view real-time results, and get to work addressing any issues you may find in minutes—not days or weeks.

“We want to make data more actionable and more available to our customers — which is our main focus of how we spend our time here at SLANTRANGE.”— Matthew Barre, SLANTRANGE

Watch the complete webinar recording to learn how you can make actionable crop data more available with the use of drone imagery.

Radiometric Accuracy Makes Accurate Crop Comparisons Possible Over Time

Using aerial imagery to measure plant health over time comes down to measuring the reflectance of light bouncing off crops. To do this effectively, you need to know how much sunlight is shining down at a given time. Otherwise, you can’t accurately determine the cause of changes in a field map from week to week, or month to month. Sunlight, cloud cover, and other weather conditions affect your drone imagery, making accurate comparisons over time challenging without the use of a solar spectrometer to ensure radiometric accuracy.

“If you see any changes in your map you don’t know if it’s due to changes in your crop, or if it’s just a different time of day, it’s cloudy, or it’s hazy…”—Matthew Barre, SLANTRANGE

The SLANTRANGE 3P system comes with a vegetation spectrometer built into the sensor and a solar spectrometer to measure sunlight before flight. This provides calibration and normalizes the data for accurate comparison between two data sets. This enables accurate, scientific analysis of plant health over time.

Identifying Field Conditions Previously Undetectable

Multispectral imagery collects 4 bands of light across the light spectrum. This means you can move beyond standard NDVI and uncover crop conditions previously undetectable with modified RGB cameras for near-infrared, or factory-made near-infrared cameras. The collection of these extra bands of light, coupled with SLANTRANGE’s vegetation analyses, provide insight into nutrient deficiencies and biomass variability unseen to other types of observation. Taking it a step further, SLANTRANGE has developed a proprietary Yield Potential analysis that combines data across the bands to calculate yield of a crop based on the data at hand.

To learn more about the capabilities of SLANTRANGE’s analytics, watch the full webinar recording here.

Using SLANTRANGE and DroneDeploy

The new DroneDeploy integration with SLANTRANGE gives you access to calibrated multispectral imagery within the DroneDeploy ecosystem. This combines instant, in-field results with powerful cloud-based analytics, storage, and sharing.

The integration includes support for:

  • GeoTIFF Map Uploads
  • SLANTRANGE Image Processing

To create a map with SLANTRANGE sensors, just install the free SLANTRANGE application within DroneDeploy, fly using the DroneDeploy mobile app, and upload imagery to DroneDeploy for processing. Once the map is complete, you’ll be able to view, analyze and share plant health data specific to the sensor used.

Get the full walkthrough of the SLANTRANGE app by watching the complete webinar recording here.

Where to Learn More

Read more about our our product update and support for SLANTRANGE sensors in our recent blog post. You can also check out our support documentation to learn more about how to capture and process imagery from SLANTRANGE sensors.

New to crop scouting with drones? Download our new eBook to learn the basics about NDVI and VARI plant health formulas and become more familiar with your options for putting drones to work in the field.

Interested in watching more webinars? Tune into our ongoing Agriculture webinar series and learn tips and best practices from ag experts.

Start Mapping with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at www.dronedeploy.com


Written by

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at www.dronedeploy.com

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade