With the global population estimated to reach eight billion people by 2025, feeding the population while conserving the forest and wildlife reserves remains a growing challenge
According to Septentrio, a global provider of positioning solutions for professional applications in industries such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, construction, marine, logistics and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the answer lies in leveraging technology in order to use existing agricultural land more efficiently.
Precision agriculture in focus
Precision agriculture means making the process of crop or livestock farming more accurate and controlled by using information technology and high-tech equipment such as sensors, GPS, control systems and robots. The precision agriculture market is growing exponentially and, according to forecast reports, will be worth more than US$10bn by 2025.
High accuracy GPS+INS opens the door to new possibilities
Open fields are an ideal environment for GPS positioning where satellite visibility is seldom obstructed.
Sentera, a Minneapolis-based company, is leveraging top-quality GPS + INS (inertial navigation system) technology together with their industry-leading multispectral cameras and AI to create cutting-edge precision farming sensors.
Sentera’s sensors are flown by aerial drones to create accurate maps showing crop health, weed and pest locations, as well as plant population counts. High-quality RGB and NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) cameras are coupled with AI image recognition software. Many crop issues can be detected with NVDI cameras even before they can be recognised by the human eye.
Advantages that high-precision GNSS+INS technology in today’s farms
· Precise weed and pest maps serve as an input for modern large-scale sprayers which are designed to spray with decimeter precision. Spraying only where needed saves cost and reduces the environmental impact of chemical and fertiliser use.
· When two different plant species are grown in adjacent rows, precise positioning is needed to monitor each individual species. One such example is at the connecting boundary of two different crop fields. Another example is a plant breeding farm where different plant hybrids occupy small-sized test plots next to each other.
· Field surveying is completed faster and covers broader areas. Utilising high-accuracy positioning and orientation information removes the need for image stitching software. Images are projected on a terrain model and their accurate positioning is used to create a single orthorectified image. This is referred to as “direct georeferencing.”
· Since image stitching is not needed, the image-processing step is simplified and field statistics can be obtained in real-time on the sensor, without the need for cloud computing or post-processing.
· High-quality positioning and camera sensors allow higher altitude flights, increasing the land surface area captured in each image and resulting in a larger total coverage area per flight.
GNSS+INS enables orthorectified images without stitching
Brian Eickhoff, chief embedded software engineer at Sentera, explained, “The integration process went smoothly, and we saw outstanding positioning performance and reliability. The GNSS + INS system was able to deliver accurate enough positioning and orientation information to create an orthorectified mosaic without the need for image stitching.”
Precision farming solutions, such as the crop monitoring sensors offered by Sentera, help farmers make informed decisions about their crops. Optimising yields and saving costs make crop production more efficient, helping farmers prepare for the future.