Tasmania, Australia: University of Tasmania’s Terraluma team is using octocopter, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in agriculture. The UAV is equipped with a series of remote sensing tools. The scientists are hoping that after this successful experimental phase, they will offer a crop mapping service, commercially in a couple of years.
Dr Arko Lucieer, Senior lecturer in remote sensing and GIS in the School of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Tasmania, said, “Octocopter has already been used to map moss in the sub-Antartctic. The team is currently looking at deploying a number of different sensors to gather data that farmers could use.”
In addition, Dr Lucieer said, “The flexibility is the strong point of a UAV. We can fly on demand. So we can go out, set it up relatively quickly and fly whenever it is needed. It can fly in a range of 250 metres and cover about 2 ha in one flight. The team is also testing a larger version that can cover larger areas and carry more sensors.”
Steve Harwin, Terraluma team member and PhD student, is testing its application in mapping coastal erosion and various crops in Tasmania. Harwin said that the UAV uses infrared rays. Infrared allows users to see something like moisture content or plant vigour, to get an understanding beyond what users can see with their eyes. He added, “We have also got a thermal sensor, sensors that allow users to gather terrain information.”