Best Practices in Drone Data Collection

Collecting Drone Data | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection

Best Practices in Drone Data Collection

Collecting drone data

There are a number of scenarios that will determine the best way for you to collect imagery. The starting point for identifying how to collect the data you need is to first understand how you intend to use the drone data.

Below we’ve listed several use cases. These settings should be used as guidelines and a starting point. Many users find it helpful to adjust the suggested settings based on crop, time of year, location, and several other factors.

Collecting data for QuickTile Maps | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection | Sentera | Complete Solutions for Digital Agriculture

Collecting data for Early Season and Late Season Scout Maps (Formerly QuickTile™ maps)

Early Season and Late Season Scout Maps offer faster alternatives to fully stitched orthomosaics. FieldAgent places drone-captured images on a map using the geo-tag information associated with each image and a map is generated within minutes, and without an internet connection.

Suggested Settings for Early Season Maps:

Overlap: 30% (or “QuickTile” setting in FieldAgent Mobile)

Altitude: 200 feet (60 meters)

Speed: 18 MPH (8 m/s)

Time of Day: Mid-Day – when the sun is highest in the sky

Conditions: Clear, Mostly Clear or Overcast

Suggested Settings for Late Season Maps:

Overlap: 30% (or “QuickTile” setting in FieldAgent Mobile)

Altitude: 400 feet (122 meters)

Speed: 18 MPH (8 m/s)

Time of Day: Mid-Day – when the sun is highest in the sky

Conditions: Clear, Mostly Clear or Overcast

Early Season and Late Season Scouting Maps are great tools that are generally accurate to within a few meters, and considered a viable data product for making many in-field decisions. These maps are incredibly useful for quickly assessing trends in overall field health or for verifying that imagery has been correctly captured before leaving the field.

Collecting data for Orthomosaics | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection | Sentera | Complete Solutions for Digital Agriculture

Collecting data for Early Season and Late Season maps (Formerly Orthomosaic maps)

Early Season and Late Season Maps, or stitched images, are built from collections of individual photos of the same area. The software identifies where images overlap and combines them together. The result is a single large image that can then be used for more detailed crop health analysis.

Suggested Settings for Early Season Maps:

Overlap: 75%

Altitude: 200 feet (60 meters)

Speed: 18 MPH (8 m/s)

Time of Day: Mid-Day – when the sun is highest in the sky

Conditions: Clear, mostly clear or overcast

 

Suggested Settings for Late Season Maps:

Overlap: 75%

Altitude: 400 feet (122 meters)

Speed: 18 MPH (8 m/s)

Time of Day: Mid-Day – when the sun is highest in the sky

Conditions: Clear, mostly clear or overcast

Collecting data for Elevation Maps | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection | Sentera | Complete Solutions for Digital Agriculture

Collecting data for Elevation Maps

Elevation data helps you to increase your operating efficiencies when building variable rate prescriptions, creating drainage or land-leveling plans, and designing subsurface drainage.

Suggested Settings for Elevation Mapping:

Overlap: 80% (or “DSM/Orthomosaic” setting in FieldAgent Mobile)

Altitude: 400 feet (122 meters)

Speed: 18 MPH (8 m/s)

Time of Day: Mid-Day – when the sun is highest in the sky

Conditions: Clear, mostly clear or overcast.

Field Conditions: For best results, fields should be freshly tilled or harvested.

You can easily order Elevation Maps within FieldAgent by simply clicking a button. The Elevation Map is then delivered to you as both a color-mapped topographic map image and set of industry-standard shapefiles.

Elevation models help you streamline activities such as land leveling, prescription generation, sub-surface tile design, and surface water management, including ditching activities.

Pricing of Elevation Maps is based on acreage and starts at $15 per map.

Collecting data for Spot Maps | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection | Sentera | Complete Solutions for Digital Agriculture

Collecting data for Population Maps

FieldAgent provides a fast and efficient way to sample plant population while using an RGB sensor. We recommend using our Spot Scout mode to capture measurements based on uniform grid sampling of a field, roughly 1-2 measurements per acre. This way, you dramatically increase the number of acres you can fly on a single drone battery, while still collecting significantly more samples than manual scouting practices — and with much higher accuracy.

Population maps are available through FieldAgent at $0.25/acre.

Suggested Settings for Population Maps:

Overlap: -300% (or “Spot” setting in FieldAgent Mobile)

Altitude: 50 feet (16 meters)

Speed: 10 MPH (9 m/s)

Beyond population maps, you can use the Spot Map feature more broadly in a plant’s lifecycle, enabling everything from re-planting decisions to damage assessments for insurance claims:

  • Make plant/replant decisions – determine where plants are missing in your field so you can take action before it’s too late
  • Optimize inputs – apply inputs while plants are in actionable growth stages and reduce waste in healthy areas
  • Identify irrigation issues – combine spot maps with ground-truthing to reveal areas of over- or under-irrigation that are leading to yield loss
  • Estimate yields – spot mapping provides stand count as early as V3 corn so you can estimate yield sooner and with better accuracy
  • Assess damage for insurance claims – collect data on yield loss to facilitate and expedite insurance claims

Collecting data for Weed Maps | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection | Sentera | Complete Solutions for Digital Agriculture

Collecting data for Weed Density Maps

FieldAgent’s weed mapping tool uses computer vision to study every photo of your field and accurately identify the location and density of weeds.

Suggested Settings for Weed Maps:

Overlap: From 30% to -300%

Altitude: From 150 feet (45 meters) down to 50 feet (15 meters)

Speed: 20 MPH (9 m/s)

FieldAgent displays results in a color-coded map at the field edge, without an internet connection. Use the drone data to generate map layers and shapefiles that can be exported directly to your existing tools to apply chemicals with precision and maximum efficiency.

Weed Maps are available through FieldAgent at $0.25/acre.

Collecting data for Small Fields or Plots | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection | Sentera | Complete Solutions for Digital Agriculture

Collecting data for small fields or plots

Small plots can be challenging to fly and general guidance is to test different options until you find what works for you. Advanced users can change how and when the sensor is triggered for collecting very small plots. This will require manual flight in most cases.

Suggested Settings for Small Fields or Plots:

Overlap: 30% to 80%

Altitude: 51-400 feet (16-122 meters)

Speed: 1-18 MPH (1-8 m/s)

Time of Day: Mid-Day – when the sun is highest in the sky

Conditions: Clear, mostly clear or overcast

Wind & Field Shape | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection | Sentera | Complete Solutions for Digital Agriculture

Taking into account wind and field shape

Wind:

To obtain high-quality imagery when wind is strong and close to, but not above, the aircraft’s limits, it is recommended that the drone flies at a slower speed, e.g. 9-11 MPH (4-5 m/s).

Note: this will increase flight time and the number of batteries needed to complete the flight. Additionally, the pilot may want to consider adjusting the aircraft’s flight direction so that the drone is flying into and with the wind. This will help keep it on the intended path.

Field Shape:

Adjusting the flight path can make the collection of imagery more efficient and may help reduce flight time. Below are two different flight patterns of the same field. The flight pattern for North-South will produce a better QuickTile image as there are fewer stops and starts of the drone changing direction.

Flight Patterns | Best Practices in Drone Data Collection

Still have questions?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions! Call us at 844-SENTERA (844-736-8372) or email Sentera Support.

 


 

About Sentera

Sentera is a leading supplier of integrated remote sensing and IoT solutions to the agriculture industry, making it easy for users to bring in-field data off the farm for further analysis. In a single growing season, Sentera’s equipment gathered over hundreds of terabytes of data from 8,000 flights. Sentera equipment has flown tens of millions of acres all over the world.

 


 

No Comments

Post A Comment