The Future Of Farming: Three Ways Aerial Surveillance Can Improve Your Crops

20 May 2015
 Categories: Business, Articles


It is estimated that 99% of farms in Australia are operated as a family business. As one of these farmers, you know the importance of staying up-to-date with techniques that can make sure your crops have the best chance to reach their full growth potential. You already know that drones are commonly used by the military, but are you aware of how drones and other types of aircraft are being used by aerial surveyors, such as 3D Mapping Solutions, to benefit farmers? From crop reading to finding water, the eyes in the sky could make a big difference to the profitability of your farm in the years ahead.

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)

After a drone has taken aerial photos of your farm, the results are interpreted using software that will give you an NDVI legend of your property. The software is able to interpret the different levels of plant growth on your farm, and turn these into a coloured map of your land. The different colours shown on the map indicate the density of growth that is occurring on every centimetre of your farm. An NDVI map can show you:

  • Crop health. When plants are healthy, they reflect different types of light. Active growth means a lot of red light will be absorbed, however, dead plants will reflect the red light. NDVI maps made using aerial photographs will show you the areas of red light reflection, and you will then be able to determine where your crops are the least healthy.
  • Irrigation deficiencies. If your watering regimen is missing parts of your crops, the NVDI picture will show the low growth areas as they will not have the green density that fully watered crops have.

Using these maps to spot potential areas of stress within your crops can give you the chance to make your crops healthier before they succumb to drought, pests, or illness and die.

Water Location

If you are farming in an area where a water shortage is trying to turn your farm into a desert, aerial surveying can be the answer to finding those pockets of groundwater that are lurking beneath your land.

The Western Australian government is using aerial surveys to look for water over seven of its shires. Rather than using drones for this water search, this aerial survey is being done using a helicopter. A large coil will be flown over the land, and an electromagnetic pulse will emit from the coil down into the ground. Technology will help to create a map of what is below the surface based on how fast the pulse bounces back. It is hoped that this method will find water channels that existed a very long time ago. This water can be used for future mining and agricultural developments in Western Australia, and it illustrates another way aerial surveys can benefit your farm.

Land Use Mapping

When you have a large farm it is not always easy to cover every corner of it regularly, and that makes it difficult to maintain in your mind the layout of your land. This can lead to valuable land not being used for crop growth because it has been overlooked or forgotten about.

Aerial surveyors can use drones, helicopters, or even hot air balloons to take multiple pictures of your farm. These photos are then stitched together to give you one large aerial shot of the land below. Using this picture you can see the contours of the land, compare it to future pictures to track soil erosion, and always know which parts of your farm are available for future crop planting.

Now that you can see three ways that an aerial survey will benefit your farm, it would be wise to consider putting this type of technology to good use. Any techniques that keep you at the forefront of healthy crop growth must be embraced, and that includes taking care of your farming needs from above the clouds.