Scientists estimate crop water needs using UAVs

JULY 17, 2009--The system is based in small unmanned planes that can fly between 50 minutes and 2 hours and explore up to 1000 hectares at an altitude of 300 m.

JULY 17, 2009--In collaboration with the University of California, Andalusian scientists of the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (IAS) -- part of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) -- and the University of Cordoba (UCO) are leading a campaign in the United States to estimate crop water needs using their own system of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with thermal and multispectral cameras.

The team will be conducting flights over experimental plots with crops such as pistachios and almonds, as well as vineyards, spread across California. The system analyzes the ideal time to water the crops and can be used to detect water waste or water leaks in the irrigation system.

The system is based in small unmanned planes that can fly between 50 minutes and 2 hours and explore up to 1000 hectares at an altitude of 300 m. Equipped with a GPS, the vehicle is tracked via base station. The cameras provide thermal and spectral information from the vegetation under surveillance in order to determine optimal water usage.

For more information, visit www.andaluciainvestiga.com.

-- Posted by Conard Holton and Carrie Meadows, Vision Systems Design, www.vision-systems.com

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