Qld Drone Photography provides crop scouting and crop survey services to farmers in the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, Darling Downs and Southern Downs regions of Queensland using NDVI imaging. We are part of a network of associated UAV survey businesses who provide similar services throughout Australia.
NDVI imaging sounds like voodoo, but it’s really quite a simple concept.
As plants grow, they absorb light and use it to produce chlorophyll in a process called photosynthesis (you know this, right, but stay with me). When we look at the plants with our eyes, the chlorophyll reflects back as green light, so we see green leaves and plants. But the plants are also absorbing infrared and other kinds of light. They don’t need this light for photosynthesis, so they reflect it back in much greater volumes than the green light we see, but infrared light is not visible to the naked eye.
Different types and species of plants reflect different amounts of infrared light, but generally speaking the more infrared light a plant reflects, the healthier it is. And the less infrared light it’s reflecting, the more likely it is that there’s something causing stress to the plant.
Infrared light sensors to detect the amount of infrared radiation reflected by each plant, and this is mapped across six bands from very healthy to completely absent.
This is not new. In fact the science has been around since the ’70s and many farmers already use it through subscriptions to satellite services. The difference with what we do is:
- We capture the infrared images in much higher definition than satellites, because we’re shooting 400 feet above the ground, not 400 miles above the ground. In fact, our imagery is up to 100 times sharper than satellite imagery.
- We capture the images when you need them, not when the satellite is coming over next. And while the satellite may miss your fields altogether due to cloud cover, we are rarely troubled by bad weather.
We use sophisticated processing software to turn these infrared images into well-defined NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) maps that clearly show the relative health of each part of your field.
If you have not used NDVI imaging before, the images use colour to identify areas of difference between healthy vegetation and stressed vegetation. Very healthy vegetation shows up as green in the image, while plants under stress show as purple or blue. The image above shows a wheat field that is suffering considerable crop stress. This was actually caused by aphids, but it took ground-truthing to prove that. The field actually looked perfectly healthy from the road.
Qld Drone Photography can provide high definition NDVI imagery of your crops (about 0.2 metres per pixel) on demand, any time, anywhere (we have a network of business partners across eastern Australia). If the weather is not good today, we can survey tomorrow or the next day rather then next week or next month. We can provide basic imagery within an hour or so of each flight (with or without internet) and we can usually provide full NDVI imagery and optional prescription maps or other specialised outputs within 24 hours.
Read case studies of NDVI imaging in different crop types