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Imaging from high above

Taking actionable insights from imagery in the sky

As many of you know, has recently been diving deep into the data and actionable insights we are gaining from our Smart Orchard project at Chiawana Orchards. We are currently collecting data within the aspects of weather, soil moisture, irrigation, tree (sap flow and leaf wetness), chemical applications, labor, and imagery. Check out our past posts that discussed "Weather Sensor Partners" and "Soil and Irrigation Partners." In this particular post we would like to engage the reader by introducing you to the actionable insights our company is receiving from the usage of imagery and drones around the Smart Orchard.'s collaborators are currently using multiple drones to collect imagery data at the Smart Orchard Project. A couple of these drones consist of Aerial Technology International's (ATI) AGBOT, and a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. Not only have they been using these high tech drones but they have also decided to use a couple of modifications and attachments to improve the insights that we receive and use during this project. Please continue reading below to learn more about the tech we are using and the kind of actionable insights we are receiving in order to empower growers with data so that they can save on labor, irrigation, and chemicals.


Aerial Technology International's AGBOT is a perfect drone for long flights across the orchard where the grower is trying to track crop health, temperature variations in crops, irrigation issues, simply do quick visual inspections or even to create detailed field maps. All of this done through the simple attachment of an extra accessory.

DJI- Phantom 4 Pro

Unlike the AGBOT, the Phantom 4 Pro is a standard, civilian run drone, that gets the job done. By simply adding some of the attachments talked about below, the Phantom 4 Pro is an affordable drone that can capture high resolution images of your orchard.


Drone Imagery with Abhilash Chandel (PhD candidate at WSU)



MicaSense- RedEdge-MX

The RedEdge-MX is a rugged, extremely durable, professional multispectral sensor. This sensor is easily attached as an add-on to the Phantom 4 Pro, turning a common drone into a high-tech agriculture imagery sensor. The RedEdge-MX is an all in one sensor that collects data about water management, crop health mapping, phenotyping, fertilizer management, disease identification, species differentiation, weed detection, advanced crop scouting, terrain modeling, and leak scouting.

Water Management:

Using color composites in the NIR band can help growers identify overly damp areas in the orchard. Resulting in these areas to be highlighted in order to be easily detectable.

Crop Health Mapping:

Low chlorophyl is often times an early indicator of plant stress and the RedEdge-MX captures both visible and invisible spectral bands. By identifying these different bands in the plant you can then compare the chlorophyl levels over time.

Fertilizer Management:

RedEdge-MX allows for the easy identification of areas suffering from low nutrients while also helping the user to monitor the effects of fertilizer throughout the season. This ultimately helps the grower to determine if, when, and where a new application of fertilizer is needed in order to save money on labor and chemical usage.

Disease Identification:

The RedEdge-MX captures a specific part of the light spectrum used for studying plants (712-722nm) called the red edge band. Using data from the red edge band, is able to give analytics to the grower so that they can identify disease and plant stress sooner in order to act faster to prevent further spreading.

Weed Detection:

Any grower can relate to the annoyance of weeds and having to be extremely careful where implementing preventatives so that they don't negatively affect crop health and yields. Using data from the RedEdge-MX, growers are now able to identify and highlight weeds amongst your crops.


FLIR Duo Pro R

When it comes down to thermal imagery our collaborators have decided to stick with the FLIR Duo Pro R to capture actionable data consistently. This thermal imaging solution combines a high resolution, radiometric thermal imager, 4k color camera, and a full suit of on-board sensors. This add-on allows for easy geo-tagging with a fully integrated GPS receiver, IMU, magnetometer, and barometer.


In-field Sensor:

Meter Group - Spectral Reflectance Sensor (SRS)

Spectral Reflectance refers to the measurement of how much energy (as a percent) a surface reflects at a specific wavelength. Many surfaces reflect different amounts of energy in different portions of the spectrum. So our researchers and data analysts use the aid of Meter Group's Spectral Reflectance Sensor alongside our drone imagery to better understand how much energy each plant is producing in order to maximize crop yield and health. Throughout this project we prefer to use this sensor because it is a small, multi-band radiometer that can be mounted to a fence post, tripod, or meteorological tower. It also happens to be inexpensive enough to deploy multiple sensors simultaneously and durable enough to leave in the field for the entire growing season or even longer, allowing the grower to gain actionable insights all around their orchard for extended periods of time.


Feel free to share this post with anyone that you think could gain added value from it. Our company is here to assist growers and the community built around agriculture!


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