Multispectral imaging flies high to help boost crop yields
Technical innovation has become big business in modern agriculture, where even small increases in crop yields can have a major impact on the bottom line. Environmental concerns are also driving the need to reduce the use of pesticides or fertilizers, which is demanding better monitoring systems for optimizing growth rates and detecting early signs of disease.
One of the newly adopted tools for remotely assessing the health of plants is multispectral imaging, which measures the light reflected by fields and orchards over different wavelength ranges. Changes in reflectance can indicate that crops have become stressed, prompting field teams to investigate and potentially intervene before a small-scale problem becomes more widespread.
“Sick plants and healthy plants reflect light differently,” explains Dr Manal Elarab, director of enterprise solutions at MicaSense, which since 2014 has produced multispectral sensors for agricultural applications. “Our sensor is designed to be flown over plants or crops using a drone, capturing data over five spectral bands that are particularly relevant for plant canopy analysis.”