U.K. Agricultural Research Institution Gets an Octocopter

Rothamsted Research, an agricultural research institution based in the U.K., has obtained an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with four distinct cameras to help monitor crops.

According to Rothamsted, the custom-built equipment will enable high-throughput collection of data from experimental crop plots at each of the institute's sites and collaborating organizations' trials. Rothamsted says that collection of data with this method will give unique perspectives on crop growth and plant functioning and will extend capabilities for screening crops of different genetic background for performance, nutrition, stress, pathogen and disease responses.

The institution reports that the UAV is a radio remote-controlled octocopter. Four cameras have been added, two of which can give a live feed of their picture to a monitor on the ground at any time. One camera, which can take videos and stills, is on a fixed mounting, pointing forward, and is used to identify where the camera is flying. The other three cameras are all mounted on a stabilized platform that can be tilted remotely from the transmitter. These cameras comprise a high-definition RGB camera, thermal infrared camera and hyperspectral camera.

‘The UAV will be deployed over the full range of crops studied at the institute and will enable detailed evaluations of growth and functioning of the plants,’ comments Dr. Malcolm Hawkesford of Rothamsted. ‘It will enable multiple measurements to be made within a short space of time with pre-programmed low-level flight paths.’


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