Airborne imaging could revolutionise agriculture

Sep 10, 2013
Airborne imaging could revolutionise agriculture
Credit: Fraunhofer IFF

An airborne camera capable of photographing the condition of certain crops over many acres of land could provide agriculturalists with the information they need to improve production. This is because, instead of simply recording an image of fields from above, the camera is capable of looking directly into the crops themselves.

The innovation, developed by researchers working at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg, Germany, has mainly focused on and maize. Specially designed software has been developed, capable of processing data from a hyperspectral camera, to more accurately analyse a crop's 'inner qualities'.

Hyperspectral imaging, like other , collects and processes information from across the . This means that the camera is able to scan the of crops, and deliver an overview of every constituent present.

The raw data from the camera is sent to the laboratory, where the concentrations of constituents relevant to the user are analysed. Newly developed software based on is capable of recognising certain characteristic properties, and can filter these out of the raw data.

The hyperspectral camera has been trialled in some of the toughest agricultural terrain in the world: Australia. With dry salty soil and soaring , those making a living from the land here need all the help they can get. So far, the first series of measurements, taken in collaboration with the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility at the University of Adelaide, have been completed, and initial results look promising.

Indeed, the ability to 'look inside' these crops presents agriculturalists with new opportunities to increase crop yield. For instance, certain - products of metabolism - provide information on the quality of a plant's nutrition. Farmers could then concentrate on cultivating those plants that thrive particularly well under the prevalent climatic conditions, thus enabling them to irrigate their fields less, for instance.

The innovative camera could also help farmers to spot the onset of disease early, something that cannot always be picked up without the use of hyperspectral technology. An infested plant activates defence mechanisms, invisible to the naked eye, before an infection becomes outwardly visible, such as dead leaves and stalks. Previously, such tests required lengthy experiments in greenhouses.

A demonstrator of the system's use in greenhouses and laboratories will be on display at the BIOTECHNICA exhibition in Hannover, Germany from 8 to 10 October 2013.

Explore further: First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Making plants' inner qualities visible

Sep 03, 2013

A photographic airplane circles above an Australian vineyard in large arcs. An onboard camera takes pictures of the grapevines in regular intervals – anything but ordinary photos, though. Instead, this ...

100-megapixel camera developed

Jul 11, 2013

A Chinese institute has successfully developed a camera featuring a 100-megapixel charge-coupled device (CCD) chip, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced on Wednesday.

Boosting crop yields in Australia

Jul 18, 2013

Andrew Hansen grows wheat, barley, canola, and oats on his farm at Coomandook in South Australia, where his family has farmed the land for more than 60 years. But now the family's way of life is threatened.

Recommended for you

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

7 hours ago

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

15 hours ago

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

15 hours ago

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

First series production vehicle with software control

15 hours ago

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces ...

Amputee puts limb system through its paces

18 hours ago

"Amputee Makes History with APL's Modular Prosthetic Limb" is the headline from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where a team working on prosthetics observed a milestone when a double amputee showed ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.