Octocopter to monitor crops

Dec 02, 2013
The octocopter is a standard 8 rotor battery powered unmanned aerial vehicle, as typically used in the film industry. Four cameras have been added, two of which at any time can give a live feed of their picture to a monitor on the ground. Credit: Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research has obtained a high performance radio remote-controlled octocopter equipped with four distinct cameras, thanks to funding from The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The custom-built equipment will enable high-throughput collection of data from experimental crop plots at each of the Institute's sites as well as at collaborating organisations' trials. Collection of data with this method will give unique perspectives on crop growth and plant functioning, and will vastly extend capabilities for screening crops of different genetic background for performance, nutrition, stress, pathogen and disease responses.

The UAV is an octocopter, a standard 8 rotor battery powered , as typically used in the film industry. Four cameras have been added, two of which at any time can give a live feed of their picture to a monitor on the ground. One , which can take videos and stills is on a fixed mounting, pointing forwards, and is used to identify where the camera is flying, via goggles. The other three cameras are all mounted on a stabilized platform which can be tilted remotely from the transmitter, and comprise a high definition RGB camera, a thermal infra red camera and a hyperspectral camera.

A BBSRC spokesperson, said: "World-leading bioscience needs state-of-art equipment. This new octocopter will offer unprecedented information on crop growth helping to keep the UK at the forefront of agricultural research."

Dr Malcolm Hawkesford, lead scientist of the 20:20 Wheat Programme at Rothamsted Research said: "We are very excited to have been able with the support of the BBSRC to obtain this unique equipment. The UAV will be deployed over the full range of crops studied at the institute and will enable detailed evaluations of growth and functioning of the plants. It will enable multiple measurements to be made within a short space of time with pre-programmed low level flight paths. It is anticipated that many thousands of plots will be monitored sequentially or in parallel in blocks in projects currently screening germplasm variation amongst thousands of lines combined with multiple treatments and replications".

Professor Maurice Moloney, Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research said: "I am delighted that here at Rothamsted we continue to advance our capacity to carry out high quality research that will provide solutions to pertinent issues of food security. This is the first time that an organisation in the UK has obtained an UAV equipped to this standard. The technology will substantially increase throughput and precision of analysis, and make a substantial contribution to current programmes of crop improvement including 20:20 Wheat®, Cropping Carbon, Sustainable Systems and the cross institute WISP (Wheat Improvement Strategic Programme) project. The technology will compliment ground-based measurements initially but eventually aerial-based observation will replace the need for low throughput non-automated manual measurement.

Explore further: MSU lands first drone

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

MSU lands first drone

Sep 10, 2013

Farmers can now get a birds-eye view of their fields – in full HD – thanks to Michigan State University landing its first drone.

Airborne imaging could revolutionise agriculture

Sep 10, 2013

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 ...

Drones spy wheat disease progression

Nov 26, 2013

Dr. Charlie Rush hopes to use a unique method – helicopter drone – to track disease progression across wheat fields to eventually help producers make better irrigation decisions.

Recommended for you

Voice, image give clues in hunt for Foley's killer

Aug 21, 2014

Police and intelligence services are using image analysis and voice-recognition software, studying social media postings and seeking human tips as they scramble to identify the militant recorded on a video ...

Smartphone-loss anxiety disorder

Aug 21, 2014

The smart phone has changed our behavior, sometimes for the better as we are now able to connect and engage with many more people than ever before, sometimes for the worse in that we may have become over-reliant on the connectivity ...

Why conspiracy theorists won't give up on MH17 and MH370

Aug 20, 2014

A huge criminal investigation is underway in the Netherlands, following the downing of flight MH17. Ten Dutch prosecutors and 200 policemen are involved in collecting evidence to present at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The inv ...

Here's how you find out who shot down MH17

Aug 20, 2014

More than a month has passed since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed with the loss of all 298 lives on board. But despite the disturbances at the crash site near the small town of Grabovo, near Donetsk ...

Assange talks of leaving embassy, sowing confusion

Aug 18, 2014

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sowed confusion Monday with an announcement that appeared to indicate he was leaving his embassy bolt hole, but his spokesman later clarified that that would not happen unless ...

User comments : 0