An overview of current and potential applications of thermal remote sensing in precision agriculture

Sami Khanal, John Fulton and Scott Shearer - Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Ohio State University, Wooster and Columbus.

Knowledge level: Intermediate

Farm Table says:

Useful article from the U.S. on the current and potential uses of thermal remote sensing in precision agriculture. Interesting to note that "thermal remote sensing provides important measurements of energy fluxes and temperatures from the earth’s surface, which are integral to understanding landscape processes and responses".

This research paper gives an overview of the current and potential applications of thermal remote sensing in precision agriculture and how it can be used effectively on farm.

Items covered in this article were:

  • Thermal remote sensing in agriculture
  • Limitations of thermal imaging
  • Future of thermal imaging in agriculture

Key points were as follows:

  • Various types of thermal imaging that have been used include:
  1. Soil moisture detection
  2. Irrigation scheduling
  3. Crop water stress
  4. Drought stress
  5. Plant disease detection
  6. Mapping of soil texture
  7. Mapping of residue cover
  8. Mapping of crop maturity
  9. Mapping of crop yield
  • Limitations of thermal imaging technology include:
  1. Size and poor quality images that are able to be taken with thermal imaging, even though thermal cameras are more costly.
  2. The negative effect that atmospheric conditions have on thermal imaging.
  3. The viewing angle and altitude of thermal sensors needs to be taken into consideration when taking thermal images as factors such as cloud cover and humidity can greatly vary results.
  4. Varying factors of thermal imaging such as the crop growth stage and crop species variation can affect the temperature recordings due to the size and width of the plants and the soil surface being exposed.
  • In the United States UAV consumption is expected to increase by approx. 19% from 2015 to 2018.
  • It is envisaged that crop and soil monitoring will be the main use for UAVs in the future with manned-aircraft and satellite technology being less utilised.
2017 - United States - Sami Khanal, John Fulton and Scott Shearer - Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Ohio State University, Wooster and Columbus.
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