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Archaeological Dataset

QUESTUAV SURVEYS A 4 SQKM ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE IN ONE FLIGHT WITH THE Q-100 DATAHAWK | QuestUAV News


QuestUAV Surveys a 4 sqkm Archaeological Site In One Flight With the Q-100 DATAhawk

QuestUAV Team Successfully Flies Paleapaphos in Cyprus - The Birthplace of Aphrodite


In the context of the RSCy2016 Fourth International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of Environment in Cyprus, the QuestUAV team went to survey the area of Paleapaphos (The Old Paphos), the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty. The area is an important archaeological site, about 16 km from the city of Paphos, including remains of temples and several excavation sites. The project area had a size of 3.8 sqkm and was imaged within a 50 minutes flight. The images will be used for detecting changes at the excavation sites and mapping of looting holes.


Mission Details


The QuestUAV team flew the area at 400 ft with a Q-100 DATAhawk, equipped with a Sony QX1 camera. The total mission, from flight planning until landing took us no longer than 4 hours. We acquired more than 850 high resolution images with a GSD of 3.5cm. The weather was sunny with medium wind strength. After 50 minutes flight time, we smoothly landed the DATAhawk with parachute into higher grass.

 Q-100 DATAhawk in car

DATAhawk recovery after parachute landing (L). Q-100 DATAhawk in the car (M). Image analysis in a restaurant (R).


Image Processing and Outlook


We processed the images within 10 hours with Pix4Dmapper Pro and generated a high resolution Orthomosaic and Digital Surface Model (DSM) covering the whole survey area. Orthomosaic and DSM are the basis for further analysis and the generation of archaeological site maps. The QuestUAV team will keep you updated about the outcome of this study.

Paleapaphos

Paleapaphos (The Old Paphos), the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite


Interactive Orthomosaic


(courtesy of DroneLab)


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Pafos World Heritage Site mapped by QuestUAV team with Q-100 DATAhawk |  1

Pafos World Heritage Site mapped by QuestUAV team with Q-100 DATAhawk


Pafos World Heritage Site mapped by QuestUAV team with Q-100 DATAhawk


QuestUAV team successfully complete narrow-window operational survey.

Pafos Archaeological Park saw the modern meet the ancient world when a QuestUAV pilot and commander team used the Q-100 DATAhawk professional mapping drone to successfully complete a narrow-window operational survey. A mere 15 minute flight allowed the team to collect 410 high-resolution images (with a 3.5cm GSD) across a 1.1km2 region of this famous UNESCO World Heritage site near Pafos harbour. The weather was sunny with medium wind strength.

Pafos World Heritage Site mapped by QuestUAV team with Q-100 DATAhawk | 2 Pafos World Heritage Site mapped by QuestUAV team with Q-100 DATAhawk | Pafos World Heritage Site Dataset Pafos World Heritage Site mapped by QuestUAV team with Q-100 DATAhawk | Pafos World Heritage Site Dataset

Survey images from Kato Pafos Archaeological Park (Q-100 DATAhawk)


Mission Details


Pafos World Heritage Site mapped by QuestUAV team with Q-100 DATAhawk | 5
Nigel (L) and Kerstin (R) arriving at Pafos

The international survey was commissioned by the Cyprus University of Technology at the RSCy2016 Fourth International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of Environment in April 2016.

The team arrived on-site for a “narrow-window” survey and were completed and off-site within 3 hours. Similar surveys performed from a UK base of operations could be concluded within 2 days, including planning and travel.

 


 

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Northumberlandia

Topography Survey of Northumberlandia | QuestUAV News


QuestUAV Discovers the Secrets of the Lady of the North

A Topographic Survey Adventure


About the Lady of the North

Northumberlandia is her name and she is a huge landform sculpture in the shape of a reclining female figure in a community park near Cramlington in Northumberland, Northern England. She is 34 metres high and 400 metres long, made of 1.5 million tonnes of rock, clay and soil. She was constructed in 2012 as part of the restoration of the adjacent Shotton surface coal mine, providing a new landscape and great piece of art for the community to enjoy while the mine is still operational. The Lady is now a living piece of the countryside that will mature over time and change with seasons. She is certainly only the start of something that will evolve through generations. Northumberlandia's winding shape is only visible in whole from a birds-eye perspective and therefore presents an exciting showcase for aerial surveying and mapping techniques. This study shows how QuestUAV mapped the Lady of the North with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and how the professionally processed images reveal her topographic secrets, like contour lines, watersheds and runoff channels.

 

Mapping Northumberlandia


The QuestUAV team flew Northumerlandia with the surveying drone Q-200 Surveyor-Pro, equipped with a gimballed Sony A6000 camera. The whole country park, with the Lady in the center, has a size of 19 hectares and was covered within one flight at an altitude of 400ft. The acquired images are of excellent quality with a GSD resolution of 2.9 cm. The raw images were processed with photogrammetric processing software Agisoft PhotoScan. An in-depth topographic and hydrologic analysis was completed with different tools from the open-source GIS software, QGIS.

                   Northumberlandia Q-200 Surveyor Pro Drone Survey

Paths at Lady Northuberlandia (L) and a Q-200 Surveyor Pro used for the survey (R).


Topographic Analysis


The basis for a topographic analysis of a surveyed land is the Digital Elevation Model (DEM). A DEM is a digital representation of a terrain's surface and can be directly generated from the UAV images. Each pixel of a DEM image contains an elevation value and allows an analysis of the surveyed land in 3 dimensions. The DEM of Northumberlandia is shown below. Different colors represent changes in the surface elevation. The Lady apparently is not lying on even ground. Her base rises from south in northern direction. Roads winding around her body like terraces. The whole body is a filigree 3-dimensional relief of fine details.

Digital Elevation Model

The DEM of Northumberlandia was used for further topographical and hydrological investigations by means of a Geo-Information System. We used the open-source software QGIS to create the following information:

  1. Delineation of the visual relief of the terrain (hillshade)
  2. Calculation of contour lines
  3. Delineation of watersheds
  4. Delineation of the flow of water (drainage networks)

The results of our hydrological analysis are shown below.

 

Digital elevation model of the Lady of the North


Processed Aerial Image Northumberlandia Topographic parameters delineated from the Digital Elevation Model


Summary


Our study shows that aerial images taken with the QuestUAV Q-200 Surveyor Pro drone are an excellent tool for in-depth topographic mapping and surveying. Images taken with a QuestUAV drone can be processed in software packages like Pix4Dmapper Pro or Agisoft Photoscan. Highly detailed orthomosaics and digital elevation models are the basis for delineating topographic parameters such as contour lines, drainage networks or watersheds inside a GIS. Northumberlandia, the Lady of the North, provided a stunning showcase of the potential of using drones for aerial surveying and topographic mapping.

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Q-100 DATAhawk popular at RSCy2016 |  1

Q-100 DATAhawk popular at RSCy2016


Q-100 DATAhawk popular at RSCy2016


Demonstrations and presentations sparking more interest in QuestUAV's professional compact mapper.

Now at the midpoint of a 5 day conference, the show staff are in full swing demonstrating the Q-100 DATAhawk and the Q-200 Surveyor Pro drones and giving presentations. The RSCy2016 Fourth International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of Environment has delegates attending seminars and workshops as diverse as remote monitoring for archaeology and applications relating to natural hazards and disasters.

RSCy 2016
RSCy 2016

Fixed-wing mission capabilities under discussion.


The Q-100 DATAhawk and the Q-200 Surveyor Pro are both high resolution mapping drones with professional capabilities. Multiple sensor types are available for each aircraft - from standard 21MP RGB sensor in the DATAhawk and the Sony a6000 24MP sensor available in the Surveyor Pro, through to the multispectral Micasense RedEdge in the DATAhawk Ag and the Agri Pro Q-pod for the Q-200 airframes. The DATAhawk is designed with rapid deployment and recovery in mind. Both aircraft can fly missions up to 60 minutes in length and have parachute recovery options - each airframe has grown from the iconic QuestUAV legacy of safety critical design and precision manufacturing.

Nigel King discussing the Q-100 DATAhawk
Q-200 Surveyor Pro capabilities

Nigel King discussing the Q-100 DATAhawk (L) and Q-200 Surveyor Pro capabilities (R)


High resolution imagery presentations show off UAV successes across a wide range of applications


Trying to squeeze the wide variety of success stories into an engaging presentation is proving challenging, but the show staff are still finding ways to enjoy their walk-throughs.

Q-100 DATAhawk at RSCy2016
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Hojung Dataset across Madang City

Hojung Deftly Manoeuvres QuestUAV’s Surveyor Pro drone Across Madang City, Papua New Guinea


Hojung deftly manoeuvres QuestUAV's Surveyor Pro drone across Madang City, Papua New Guinea


 

Taking a break from missions and demonstrations across South Korea, and in conjunction with client management and local city officials, QuestUAV’s partner in the SK - Hojung Solutions Co., Ltd, flew their Surveyor Pro UAV across Madang City in Papua New Guinea.

The visit was originally scheduled to facilitate the capture of detailed maps of a 0.2ha area for update planning of the client’s drainage system developments. Once local city officials and client management saw how quickly a successful survey could be completed (on day one), they requested plans be drafted, approved and executed for a second day’s mission to survey a much larger area – the entire city. The resulting image set – some 1600+ images was collected in a single flight.

Due to the low-lying location and the safety requirements of this excursion, Madang Air Traffic Control categorised the UAV flights as standard aircraft and tracked accordingly. The ATC tower is the highest structure in Madang City and although UAV flights are generally planned to be autonomous, ATC staff coordinated with the flight team in real time to guide the mission within their airspace to enhance safety even further. The weather was sunny, with temperatures of 34 degrees and winds of 4.5 knots. Processing was completed in Pix4Dmapper Pro.

 

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Windthrow Image

How Windthrow Impact Can Be Assessed With UAV Intervention | QuestUAV News


How Windthrow Impact Can Be Assessed With UAV Intervention

High Resolution UAV Images As Basis To Determine Stem Volume Loss


Project Background

North England experiences some of the windiest and wettest weather in Europe. North English forests are regularly hit by high winds and when these are accompanied by heavy rainfall they pose a big threat to the stability of forest stands. Windthrow is one of the greatest threats to forest stands in North England and assessing the economic impact of windthrows is a main part of the forestry in this region. Our study shows that QuestUAV images are a cheap and effective tool to rapidly determine windthrow extents over up to 500 hectares per day at a flight altitude of 400ft. Freely available Geo-Information Systems (GIS) allow a forester to create UAV-based windthrow maps and to quantify the loss in stem volume and hence the financial loss.


Project Scope


Our study was carried out at Matterdale, a forest stand situated within the Lake District National Park in the county of Cumbria. The forest extends to 290 hectares and is planted with Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) and Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) of different age groups.

                                    Q-200 Surveyor Pro Pre Flight Checks Q-200 Surveyor Pro Pre Flight Checks

Getting ready for takeoff (Pre-flight checks on the QuestUAV Q-200 Surveyor Pro)

Early 2015, a winter storm hit the forest and caused windthrows over the whole stand with significant impact on the forest stability and economic rotation cycles. Shortly after the storm event QuestUAV, in close cooperation with the Forestry Commission England, flew Matterdale forest with the objective to cover the whole stand with high resolution, up-to-date images, in order to map the extent of windthrows and determine the lost stem volume.

Orthomosaic and Digital Surface Model (DSM) of Matterdale Forest

Orthomosaic and Digital Surface Model (DSM) of Matterdale Forest

We flew the forest with the QuestUAV surveying drone Q-200 Surveyor-Pro, equipped with a gimballed Sony A6000 camera, capturing high definition images with 2.9 cm GSD resolution at 400ft. The raw images were processed with Pix4Dmapper Pro. The resulting image products (figure below) provide the basis for windthrow maps and stem volume calculations, which were conducted in the open-source GIS software, QGIS.


Results and Conclusions


The graphic below shows how windthrows can easily be identified in a UAV orthomosaic. Affected areas were mapped out quickly and with highest accuracies. Our study revealed that windthrows occurred in two sub-stands of Matterdale forest. Three areas with a total size of 3.5 hectares were destroyed by the storm, which is 1.7 % of the total sub-stand area.

UAV orthomosaic (left) and windthrow map (right, including stand information)
UAV orthomosaic (left) and windthrow map (right, including stand information)

By combining the windthrow extent with forest inventory data on species composition, tree age, mean tree height and stem volume, we determined the lost stem volume in cubic meters (table below). In summary, 1,945 m3 stem volume has been lost over 3.5 hectares during the storm event.

Windthrow Tree Results Table
The lost stem volume is determined by combining forest inventory data with UAV map information

Our study reveals that QuestUAV drones allow a quick targeted response to monitor forests after hazardous events. Drone-based maps are a quick and cheap alternative when compared to conventional methods on assessing the scale of an event on the ground.


 

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GIS Services |  DATAhawk GIS

Multispectral imaging with QuestUAV, Micasense and Pix4Dmapper | QuestUAV News


A Breakthrough in Precision Farming

Multispectral imaging with QuestUAV, Micasense and Pix4D Mapper Pro


Key Achievements

Multispectral crop monitoring has proven to be a vital aspect of successful agricultural operations. QuestUAV’s new industrial grade compact mapper Q-100 DATAhawk, combined with the multi-spectral MicaSense RedEdge sensor, opens up new doors to maximize agricultural productivity. The QuestUAV Q-100 DATAhawk is rugged, reliable and allows easy and safe operation in open and confined environments. In combination with the five-band MicaSense RedEdge sensor, farm maps of unprecedented quality can be generated by means of the intuitive Pix4D Mapper Pro software. The following study reveals that our system provides a turnkey monitoring solution for the agricultural industry.

GIS Services | DATAhawk GIS


Technical Background


QuestUAV Q-100 DATAhawk

The QuestUAV Q-100 DATAhawk Ag is a compact sub 2kg mapping drone with an exceptionally easy hand-launch. The entire UAV is ultra-rugged, can be rapidly deployed and flies fully autonomous. Flight endurance is up to 1 hour at 18m/s with coverage of up to 300 hectares per flight at 400ft altitude. Multiple landing options, automatic and parachute, allow for an easy and safe operation in open and confined environments.

MicaSense RedEdge

The agricultural edition of the Q-100 DATAhawk, the Q-100 DATAhawk Ag, carries the MicaSense RedEdge multispectral unit. This advanced, lightweight camera is optimised for use in UAVs of our type.

The MicaSense captures data in five discrete spectral bands (near-infrared, red-edge, red, green and blue with a Ground Sample Distance of 8.2cm/pixel at 400ft), enabling the creation of crop health indices and orthomosaics. High-grade optical filters deliver precise information specially targeted to agricultural applications.

MicaSense RedEdge Bands

Spectral bands of MicaSense RedEdge

Image Processing (Pix4D Mapper Pro or MicaSense ATLAS)


There are several options to process MicaSense data and to generate orthomosaics and crop health indices. We found the following two options as the most practical solutions for farmers:

  1. MicaSense ATLAS offers a powerful cloud-based data service for storage, processing, analysis, and presentation of multispectral data.
  2. Pix4D Mapper Pro allows to convert multispectral images into accurate index maps and orthomosaics via intuitive software control.

Project Objectives and Scope


Our study took place at a representative precision farm in the Northeast of England in February 2016. The farm has a total size of 172 hectares and was planted with winter wheat, one of the most common crops of the region. The whole farm was covered by a single 32 minute Q-100 DATAhawk flight at 400 ft altitude. During the flight, 945 multispectral MicaSense RedEdge images were taken and processed in Pix4D Mapper Pro and with MicaSense ATLAS.

The key objectives of our study are:

  1. to prove the ease of use and reliability of the QuestUAV Q-100 DATAhawk
  2. to assess the quality of the MicaSense images
  3. to find the best way for a farmer to process and make use of the imagery.

Our study focuses on the technical parameters of the system and excludes farm-related analyses, such as an assessment of plant stresses, characterization vegetative cover or yield estimations. A separate report will cover the farm analysis with the progressing growing season in 2016.


Results and Conclusions


QuestUAV Q-100 DATAhawk – Safe and Reliable

Q-200 Surveyor Pro Launch

Even in high winds (up to 25mph), the Q-100 DATAhawk flew a stable autonomous route and still achieved a comparable data quality to the QuestUAV Q-200.

Only 10 minutes of preparation were required from arriving at the site and getting airborne. Hand-launch, auto-pilot and parachute landing guaranteed a safe and reliable operation at any stage of the flight.

MicaSense RedEdge – Multispectral Imagery for Farm Index Maps

Multispectral ImageryEvery second, MicaSense captures data in five discrete spectral bands. At 400ft flight altitude, a spatial resolution of 8cm is achieved. Fully processed MicaSense products are reflectance-calibrated image mosaics of single bands or combinations of bands. Each layer of the reflectance-calibrated file (GeoTiff) is normalized so that a pixel intensity of 32768 corresponds to 100% reflectance for each band. All GeoTiff-Layers are registered to other layers at the pixel level. Through spectral calibration, images taken at different dates and light conditions become comparable.

 

Image Processing- Pix4D Mapper Pro and MicaSense ATLAS

Pix4D Mapper SoftwareThe images were processed with Pix4D Mapper Pro and through the MicaSense ATLAS service. Both processing options provided comparable results in terms of image quality and variety of image products (orthomosaic, NDVI, NDRE, digital elevation model). However, the concept of Pix4D and ATLAS to produce farm-relevant image products is different.

MicaSense ATLAS offers a cloud-based processing service. Source images are uploaded to the cloud and are processed by MicaSense. The output is visible on a website (password-protected) or can be downloaded as GeoTiffs. The service requires no knowledge on image processing and is charged per hectare.

 
 
Pix4D Mapper Pro is a professional photogrammetry software and runs locally on any Mac or Windows PC. Multispectral source images can be easily converted into accurate farm index maps via intuitive software control. Once a Pix4D licence is purchased, the user can process various datasets without additional costs.

Summary


QuestUAV’s new compact mapper Q-100 DATAhawk, with the MicaSense RedEdge sensor on board, is a reliable platform to capture high-quality multi-spectral data for agricultural applications. The Q-100 DATAhawk allows an easy and safe operation in high winds and confined environments. Different processing options, like the professional photogrammetry software Pix4D, allow to easily process the MicaSense data and to create reflectance-calibrated image products. Overall, the tripartite system, Q-100 DATAhawk – MicaSense – Pix4D, has proven to be a reliable turnkey solution for agricultural monitoring.


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Fruit Plantations Image

Maximizing a Fruit Plantations Yield using UAV Imagery | QuestUAV News


Maximizing a Fruit Plantations Yield using UAV Imagery


Plant Counting and Gap Filling Techniques

Determining plant density and identifying canopy gaps is crucial for good plantation management; this helps predict yields and to maximize the yield by refilling planting gaps. Scientific photographs taken from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) allow accurate plant counts and the identification of plant mortality for several hundreds of hectares per day. Studies over different crops show that QuestUAV images are a powerful tool for a plantation management to develop replanting plans and to compare actual vs. target plant density.

                         Q-200 Surveyor Pro in FlightPlant CountingCrop Survey using the Q-200 Surveyor Pro


Healthy Plantation vs High Mortality


Numerous studies have been conducted on the effects of plant density on growth and yield of tropical crops. Plant densities are an important and limiting factor for growth, nutritional status, fruiting and hence for a plantation’s yield. Optimal plant densities depend on different factors, such as cultivars, climate, soil characteristics, land preparation etc.

                                                       Banana Crop Oil Palm with Good Density

QuestUAV images of banana (left) and oil palm with good plant density


Low-quality planting material, wrong plant treatment or climatic anomalies can lead to high mortality. The result can be a huge reduction of yield rates. Further, actual plant densities can differ from target densities for several reasons, such as wrong distances between planting rows or a lack of planting material. Therefore, the refilling of canopy gaps and correction of non-optimal plant densities are of high priority for a good plantation management.

                                                         High Morality Banana Crop High Morality Palm Oil

QuestUAV images of banana and oil palm with high mortality

Case Study: Developing Management Plans on the Basis of UAV Images


Several flights were conducted with the QuestUAV Surveyor-Pro over different tropical crops in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. More than 1,000 ha of pineapple, banana and oil palm were mapped by our crew. All images were processed with Pix4Dmapper Pro and analyzed by plantation management with the open-source software QGIS. The software allows plant counting, density calculations and the generation of mortality maps by visual inspection of the image products. More advanced approaches, like image classification and pattern detection algorithms, allow to map canopy gaps and determine plant densities in an automatic or semi-automatic way.

Identifying and Refilling Canopy Gaps

The figure below shows a study with the objective to map canopy gaps and mortality at a banana plantation in Indonesia. The analysis was done by the plantation management in QGIS. Yellow circles represent missing or dead banana plants, digitally marked by visual inspection of the image products. The map is the basis for the plantation management to: Assess the yield reduction due to plant loss Determine the amount of plants which require replacement Define the replanting locations

Crop Density ProcessingThe total study area had a size of 120ha. The image analysis revealed that over the whole area more than 12,000 banana plants require replanting. In the worst sections of the plantation up to 320 plants per hectare need to be replaced.


Comparing Actual vs. Target Plant density

Instead of mapping gaps and mortality, vital plants can be digitally detected by image inspection and plant densities can be derived. Single plants can be easily identified in an UAV image. Once digitally mapped, they can be automatically counted and plant densities can be calculated.

Pineapple Plants

The fields were flown 2 months after planting. Single plants can be easily identified. Each yellow circle represents a pineapple plant. The average plant density was found to be 28,700 plants/ha. Compared to the target density of 31,000 plants/ha, the actual density is too low.

The plantation management measured the distance between the plants and found that the target plant distance has not been implemented correctly in the field and they were often planted too far away from each other. In effect, the planting crew was either not skilled enough or was not following management instructions: in reality both are prevalent risks in plantation management.


Summary


What UAV surveys can give to a plantation management is the full picture, in great detail, of their plantation and control methods that allow intervention and potential for improved profitability, at an early stage of growth. This study shows how both mortality and improved canopy coverage can be detected on a large scale and effective, preventative measures be taken.


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Q200 Water Resource

The Environmental Institute of Houston have obtained their FAA approval for the QuestUAV AQUA drone for flights

The Environmental Institute of Houston have obtained their FAA approval for the QuestUAV AQUA drone for flights

 

After a successful application round, the EIH and the QuestUAV AQUA drone have been awarded FAA approval to fly missions within the United States for research and mapping. A process that started in August 2015 has concluded and work has begun to collect data for ongoing research projects.

Environmental Institute of Houston

Shallow Reef Mapping

Mapping shallow reefs is usually impeded by navigation and the inability to use traditional survey methods. The use of UAV photography combined with digital image processing techniques provide more effective way for mapping and assessing these reefs. The project aims to map the physical extent and conditions of intertidal oyster reefs for assessing the current status of oyster population and hard bottom habitat within an estuary as well as to provide information needed for ongoing oyster conservation and restoration efforts. The study site is located in Bastrop Bay near the city of Houston, Texas.

Shallow Reef Mapping in Bastrop Bay
Shallow Reef Mapping in Bastrop Bay

 

Environmental Institue of Houston - EIH

The University of Houston-Clear Lake established the Environmental Institute of Houston (EIH) in 1991 to address regional issues of environmental concern. Since then, the institute has become a leader in building partnerships in research, education and outreach.

Environmental Institute of Houston


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Pineapple Plantation

Photogrammetry Dramatically Increases Lifetime of Worlds Largest Pineapple Plantation | QuestUAV News

UAV Image Interpretation Dramatically Increases the Lifetime of the World’s Largest Pineapple Plantation

Soil Erosion Reduced by a Factor of Almost Thirty, Ensuring Fruit Cultivation for the Next 100 Years

Key Achievements

Scientific photographs taken from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, like the QuestUAV Agri-Pro system, and processed with Pix4D are a powerful tool to fight soil erosion. Our case study shows that image-based farm management can significantly reduce the soil loss on tropical fruit plantations, such as pineapple. In our study a reduction from intolerable 200 t/ha/yr was reduced to tolerable soil loss levels of ; a factor of 27 times improvement. The management at Dole Philippines were both surprised and delighted by the effectiveness of the UAV derived plans.

Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is considered to pose a major threat for pineapple production and environmental preservation in the Philippines. Soil loss rates vary with rainfall, elevation, slope gradient and soil characteristics and can reach up to 250 t/ha/yr. Based on experimental results, those losses can decrease potential yields as much as 30% in one crop cycle. Fighting soil erosion is therefore a major objective to move to a sustainable cultivation of pineapple in the Philippines.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) combined with know-how in farm management provide new opportunities to significantly reduce soil erosion. Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) gained from UAVs are the basis for designing relief-adapted field layouts (planting rows, drainage channels) and an effective placement of soil conservation structures.

 

Project Scope

Our study was carried out on the world’s largest pineapple plantation, managed by Dole Philippines Inc. and located at the footslopes of a volcanic cone on the island Mindanao. The area has a total size of 220 sqkm and a strong relief.

 Dole Inc Survey DroneDole Inc SurveyingDole Inc Drone Launch                                                       

Since March 2014 Dole Philippines has been flying their fields on a daily basis with two QuestUAV Agri-Pros. The Quest UAV “Agri-Pro” carries a Twin NDVI sensor providing Dole Philippines with RGB and NIR information at a spatial resolution of 5 cm. The images are the basis for designing and implementing new relief-adapted field layouts and soil conservation structures. The whole implementation workflow was developed by Dole Philippines in close cooperation with the German company ORCA Geo Services (GIS and agricultural consulting) and QuestUAV.

Dole Philippines, as a leading agricultural company in the Philippines, has an excellent environmental protection policy for its agricultural production. Soil erosion is continuously measured and analysed over time, allowing comparisons between soil loss rates of old and new, relief-adapted field layouts.

Results and Conclusions

The graphic below shows how the old field layout has been adapted to the relief on the basis of a Natural Color Image and a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). The total area of the field is 85 hectares. The images were acquired with the QuestUAV Agri-Pro System. The image processing was performed with Pix4Dmapper Pro. QGIS was used to design the new field layout.

Digital Elevation Model Pineapple PlantationThe old field layout shows that planting contours do not follow the contour of the terrain. In some parts of the field, planting blocks are oriented perpendicular to the contour and rain events have a massive erosive effect. Water masses will flow directly downslope transporting huge amounts of soil material. A soil loss rate of 200 t/ha/yr was measured for the steep-slope parts of the field.

Contour lines were calculated on the basis of the DEM. Contour lines indicate the ideal shape and orientation of planting rows. Ideal planting contours would follow curves rather than straight blocks. As curved planting rows are not practical for large field machinery, a compromise was required. The field has been divided into two regions with different block orientations.

After the layout design was implemented in the field, new UAV images were taken. The updated image product shows how the block orientation has been changed according to the design. A direct downslope flow of water is hindered by the pineapple plants. By only changing the block orientation, the soil loss rate was reduced significantly from 200 t/ha/yr to 13 t/ha/yr.

Dole Philippines is planning to install additional soil conservation structures to reduce the soil rate further to . Their conservation programme includes, amongst others, mulching, the protection of receptor and tributary channels, the construction of sediment catching ponds and a special conservation strategy for gullies.


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