How it Works

 

The Basics, Start to Finish

A drone is flown over the field carrying a camera. The camera takes photos the whole time.

Afterwards, all these photos are stitched together into a giant image of the field, called an ‘orthomosaic’ or ‘field map’.

In order for this stitching to work, each photo needs to be ‘geotagged’. This means the latitude and longitude coordinates of wherever it was taken are embedded in the exif data of the photo.

This can be done automatically as each photo is taken if your survey camera has it’s own GPS.

If your camera does not have a GPS, but your drone uses a 3D Robotics flight controller, then you can use Agribotix’s desktop application, FarmLens Uploader™, to geotag your photos. This can be downloaded for free after signing up for Farm Lens. If using FarmLens Uploader™, please click the 'Help' tab within the application for a set of specific instructions on how to execute your survey and upload with FarmLens Uploader™.

A single survey can consist of a single flight or multiple consecutive flights over a contiguous area.

For a single-flight survey...

If your photos are automatically geotagged in flight, simply put all the relevant survey photos into a zip file before uploading to FarmLens™.

If you are using FarmLens Uploader™, the time range of your photo set must fall within the time range of the flight log (recorded by your ground control device). To ensure this, always conform to this sequence: Before the survey, 1) start recording the flight log and 2) initiate camera triggering; After the survey 1) stop camera triggering and 2) end the flight log recording. This way, FarmLens Uploader™ will always be able to find the correct flight log to geotag your photo set.

For a multi-flight survey...

If your photos are automatically geotagged in flight, include the relevant survey photos from each individual flight in a single zip file before uploading to FarmLens™.

If you are using FarmLens Uploader™, rather than creating separate photo sets and flight logs for each flight, create a single photo set and flight log for the entire series of flights. Find details on how to do this here.

 

Deriving Crop Health

Field health maps are produced by measuring the reflectance of certain light bands that indicate plant health. Agribotix has found near infrared (NIR) light reflectance to be the most reliable and accessible measure or crop health.

A field health survey can be done using a camera with a specialized lens and NIR filter.

 

Image Stitching

Once your survey imagery is geotagged, the individual photos must be stitched together to create a complete image of your field. 

Depending on your camera sensor, this complete image can then be processed further for specialized products like NDVI field maps or management zone maps for precision Ag applications.

Agribotix offers an image processing and storage service, FarmLens™. A subscription to FarmLens™ gives you a hub for cloud-based processing and storage.

FarmLens™ processing typically takes four business hours and automatically outputs a series of map products tailored for precision agriculture applications.

 

Necessary Equipment

 

DRONE

• Must have GPS.

• Must be able to carry survey-capable camera mounted so the camera is pointed straight down at the ground.

• For FarmLens Uploader compatibility, requires 3D Robotics flight controller.

• Not necessary, but trongly recommended:

  • 2 or 3-axis gimbal for your survey camera.
  • Automatic photo geotagging, either by the camera's internal GPS or by your drone's GPS.

 

Camera

• Tried and true survey cameras:  Modified GoPro Hero 4, Canon S100, Canon S110/S120.

• Must capture NIR imagery in order to generate all FarmLens™ products (basic imagery, NDVI and Shape File).

• Must have internal GPS for instant geotagging. If no internal GPS, use 3D Robotics flight controller and Field Extractor for geotagging.

 

Must use one of the following…

1) Camera with internal GPS.

or

2) 3D Robotics flight controller for geotagging w/ Field Extractor.