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Monica Pesce


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VVA Brussels, Belgium

Published in: Technology
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Monica Pesce

  1. 1. Capigi GeoAgri 2016 UASs applications in Agriculture Rotterdam, 26 May 2016
  2. 2. Agenda  UAVs applications in Agriculture  UASs’ Classification criteria and relevant aspects  UAVs use in agriculture  Additional findings  UAVs benefits and advantages in Agriculture  Q&A
  3. 3. Category Applications Description Maturity level Variable rate application Aerial Application/Spraying (water, fertilizer, pesticides) Water, fertilizer, pesticides and any other nutrient input rate change in response to spatially variable factors, matching the crop and soil requirements, allowing for big input saving (up to 50%), efficient and site-specific management, time saving, less environmental impact and higher yield, with a relatively low investment with respect to other agricultural machineries Low Yield monitoring • Crop Health and Growth Monitoring • Disease Detection and Mitigation • Yield Estimation • Swarm robotics • Crops inspection with Normalized Difference Vegetative Index (NDVI) or near-infrared (NIR) sensors • Creation of a weed map and easy differentiation among areas of high-intensity weed proliferation from the healthy crops • Keeping track of the output and outcome of crop health and growth monitoring and disease detection and mitigation, it is possible to produce reliable yield forecast • Individual robots work together to perform complex tasks such as weed and parasite monitoring, their behaviour copies how bees work together in their colonies Medium Biomass monitoring • Grasslands monitoring • Forests monitoring Collection of information on field biomass (crop, weed and parasite, soil parameters) and surrounding areas, in particular related to the presence of grassland and forests Low Soil condition monitoring • Environmental impact assessment: soil erosion monitoring and flood risk surveys • Moisture Monitoring • Environmental monitoring can require constantly updated imagery often covering the same ground. UAVs allow effective and repeatable capturing of precise and detailed. • Detection of plant stress and water distribution with an infrared (IR) camera that detects the heat signature of the soil (the amount of heat reflected depends upon the water content of the soil) and a multispectral sensor which captures image data at specific frequencies across the electromagnetic spectrum, assessing plant health by measuring the frequency of the light emitted by the plant (a healthy plant indicates better soil moisture content). Medium Livestock tracking Cattle Herd Monitoring Monitoring of herds from overhead, tracking the quantity and activity level of animals on one’s property, especially for night-time monitoring due to the human eye’s inability thus far to evolve to the point of seeing in the dark. Low Agri-logistics Farm machinery monitoring/tracking, assets management, equipment inspection and field delineation UASs can be useful in farm management to track and monitor machinery in action, for instance to verify potential overlaps in a tractor path, to inspect the status of the equipment and verify whether maintenance is needed or to easily check the dimension and border of the farm Low Farm insurance Crop and farm assets insurance In order to assess fields "insurability", remote sensing technologies can be leveraged in order to collect environmental data record and capture ground conditions, analyse predicted and actual harvest shortfalls and recent trends, , as well as evaluate and monitor the insurability of farm assets Medium CAP compliance • Crop identification and validation • Parcel identification Drones are suitable tools to identify, monitor, track and certify crops and parcel borders, in order to ensure compliance to the CAP Medium UASs applications in Agriculture
  4. 4. UASs’ Classification criteria and relevant aspects  There is no 1to1 or direct relationship between types of UASs and domains or applications: fixed wing are considered more effective in terms of duration, speed and consequently distance covered, while multirotor show high flexibility to perform complex tasks in very variegated environments.  Based on the legislation currently in place in various MSs, whether you buy and fly your own UAV or you purchase an integrated package (hardware, software and services), if the drone is used for profit /commercial purposes then the application is considered professional. Therefore, all the drones and the related applications in agriculture, are to be considered professional and impacted by the regulation  UAVs’ technical and functional criteria (guidelines for users choices): Applications Sensors Variable rate application RGB, LiDAR Yield monitoring RGB, LiDAR, Multispectral, Thermal, Hyperspectral, Normalized Difference Vegetative Index (NDVI), Near-Infrared (NIR) Biomass monitoring RGB, LiDAR, Multispectral, Hyperspectral Soil condition monitoring RGB, LiDAR, Thermal, Multispectral, Photomosaics, Infrared, Reflectance technology Livestock tracking RGB, LiDAR Agri-logistics RGB, LiDAR, Multispectral • Environmental conditions: o Need of instant vertical control (fixed wing vs. multi-rotor) o Dimension of the area to be surveyed o Characteristics of the area: flat vs. steep terrain etc. o Operative capacity in adverse atmospheric conditions (wind, rain, snow, temperature) • Technical characteristics: o Launch/recovery options o Price o Max Payload capacity o Minimum flight time requirements Sensors with which the platform can be equipped o User skills requirements – ease to use (need of specific training / certificates) • Type of application: o Variable rate applications o Yield monitoring o Biomass monitoring o Soil condition monitoring o Livestock tracking o Agri-logistics o Farm insurance o CAP compliance
  5. 5. UAVs use in agriculture In precision farming two phases can be identified: the first one concerns the acquisition of data about the land, and the second in which the farmer plans actions and intervenes based on the results of data processing. Since the two phases are different in nature, the equipment required, namely the characteristics of the drone used, can vary widely. Some general guideline reflecting market trends are hereafter provided, which may therefore be subject to changes based on environmental characteristics and/or specific user’s needs:  Phase1: Data collection Fixed wing drones are in general more productive (area covered/time) thus very suitable for data collection, but the most appropriate type of UAS depends heavily on the characteristics of the area (flat v. steep terrain, presence of obstacles.. etc.), on the possibility to host take-off/landing equipment and on the dimension of the area which need to be covered  Phase 2: Intervention In order to implement action plans on the field, the ideal UAS depend very much on the specific task to be performed. When the surrounding environment and the activity allows for the use of fixed wing UAS, that would be preferred for its higher efficiency. On the other hand, when functional versatility and slow movement are required or when the field is located in a challenging and hard to reach area, then a multirotor is preferred In both phases, the user’s skills requirements represent a very relevant aspects, since in general farmers don’t have the necessary skills to use a drone and process derived data, that’s why a professional is usually involved. There may be exceptions depending on the farmer background and experience and on the complexity of the application At the moment in Europe only the first phase of data collection is actually performed through the use of drones. In the second phase, interventions on the field are performed using traditional technology (tractors, harvesters, etc.) equipped with GNSS technology. This is mainly due to the low maturity level of UAVs’ technology uptake in agriculture, which is likely to increase in an incremental way.
  6. 6. Hardware&Software vs. Complete package of services User’s training e skills Improvements to meet user expectations and needs A complete package of services tends to be bought because the farmer usually does not have the necessary know-how to use a drone and process the data generated therefrom, but there may be exceptions depending on the complexity of the application and the user background Big farms managers will be incentivised to become a professional UASs’ pilot (high return on training investments in terms of cost and time saving)s. Smaller farmer prefer to make lower investment in trainings since satisfactory results can be achievable with smaller and easier to use UAS Such a different users willingness to invest in training is likely to generate a market segmentation •Higher accuracy in terms of output and drone's position, towards the future cm accuracy is required •Longer flight endurance (battery life, longer flight time and bigger area covered) •Safety •Sensors currently available on the market are not yet able to provide low cost and high quality performance at the same time, they also show overheating issues •The models currently available are not able to cover the majority of crops and their applicability is quite complex •Perfect interoperability with other data (e.g. satellite data, role of EO) and with other technologies •Autonomous management system able to collect and process the data and to act accordingly on the field in an autonomous way •Harmonized and effective regulation •Training provision to spread the necessary skills and boost the uptake of the new UASs technology, opportunity for the education industry (one of the main barriers to the uptake on new technology in agriculture is the reluctance of the old generation farmers) All these general guidelines may be subject to exceptions, depending on many different factors including the complexity of the application, the background and qualifications of who performs the activities and legal requirements Additional findings (1/2)
  7. 7. Impediments to UAVs’ uptake Ranking of users’ criteria in choosing the most suitable UAV Market share of UAVs’ price range • Technical: • Lack of reliability • Limited battery endurance • Pilot skills required • Technical maintenance required • Legal: Free fly on own property not allowed Clear and harmonised regulation missing • Political: • Lack of awareness on benefits • Lack of support to R&D and investments • Technical characteristics (100%) • Application (83%) • Price (83%) • User’s skills required (67%) • Environmental conditions (33%) •2.000 - 5.000 euro: 40-50% •5.000 - 15.000 euro: 25-30% •15.000 - 30.000 euro: 15-20% •Above 30.000 euro: 10% The rages of prices listed above encompass only the cost of the hardware (a platform), thus they do not include any kind of service of ancillary technology. At the moment the use of UAVs for agriculture is perceived as quite expensive All these general guidelines may be subject to exceptions, depending on many different factors including the complexity of the application, the background and qualifications of who performs the activities and legal requirements Additional findings (2/2)
  8. 8. UAVs benefits and advantages in agriculture UASs advantage and benefits in agriculture with respect to traditional and other methodologies:  Time saving – specific activities become easier (I can reach remote areas with the drone rather than in person), overall quicker, allowing the farmer to focus on the critical information and how to react  Cost saving – more effective in performing everyday activities, less water/pesticides/etc.  Avoidance of low added value operations – e.g. if I have to monitor the cattle I can send the drone without having to drive around the farm to search for them  Lower dependence from weather conditions – e.g. I can fly the drone below clouds, which is not the case for Copernicus real time satellite data  High flexibility in space and time,  Small size: easy to operate and able to hover even in difficult access areas  They can easily integrate different sensor and technology needed for a more accurate procedure and also giving the farmer the information in real time for a quicker reaction to the crop needs  Capability to monitor and record EGNSS (Galileo and EGNOS) added value with respect to other constellation Current UAVs use mono-frequency GPS L1 receivers to navigate, and most of them benefit from EGNOS (SBAS) improvements. Some portion also use Real- Time Kinematic (RTK) set-ups, but they are more expensive and are often too accurate to perform some of the activities described above. Very few platforms use multi-constellation GNSS for navigation purposes. Thanks to EGNOS an important gain in terms of integrity (monitor potential error rapidly and robustly) is thus achievable and such an advantage will be available for free within the European Union. Regarding Galileo, the expectation is of course not only to add more satellites which would be helpful in difficult environments, but also to improve accuracy already through the OS provided for free. In addition, also certified signal (AUTH) provided by Galileo CS can result particularly interesting when legal aspect come into play, specifically concerning the CAP.
  9. 9. Q&A