Spot Maps: A faster, more efficient way to sample plant population

FieldAgent Spot Maps | Sentera | Fast Population Analysis | Fast Stand Count |Same Day Stand Count

22 May Spot Maps: A faster, more efficient way to sample plant population

Growers and their advisors have less time than ever to scout and manage their crops. They’re looking for ways to improve efficiency and accuracy across their entire operation. Sentera has developed a way to assist in improving field scouting practices. We recently rolled out new analytics capabilities within our FieldAgent™ platform—among them was a Spot Maps feature.

What is spot mapping?

Spot Map mode in Sentera’s FieldAgent mobile application automatically configures the drone to collect data from one spot in each acre. FieldAgent uses that data to count plants. This allows you scout a 100-acre field using only one battery.

The actual process involves flying a drone with an RGB camera (no special sensor is necessary) over your entire field at an altitude of 50 feet. The drone takes one photo per acre as it flies your entire field and provide you with a thorough overview while you’re still in the field.

At landing, each image location is analyzed independently and a population count is produced for each image. Collection is fast, stitching isn’t necessary, and results are available immediately.

Contrast this with the much more time-intensive mosaic methods that involves stitching together hundreds (or thousands) of images to determine plant population and you’ll see why Spot Maps are such a valuable tool. Spot Maps allow you to get an estimate of plant population much more quickly and efficiently than through stitching.

An example

If you’re flying a 100-acre field:

Spot Mapping:

Acres flown: 100
Images collected: 100
Data collected: ~1.35 GB
Overlap: -300% (or use “Spot” setting in FieldAgent Mobile)
Altitude: 50 feet (16 meters)
Speed: 20 MPH (9 MPS)
Time of day: Mid-day
Conditions: Clear, mostly clear, or overcast
Number of drone batteries needed: 1
Time to process: 3-5 minutes


FieldAgent Spot Maps | Sentera | Fast Population Analysis | Fast Stand Count |Same Day Stand Count

Spot Mapping: One photo taken every acre; negative overlap

Stitched-Image Population Analysis:

Acres flown: 100
Images collected: 2,000+
Data collected: ~8.4 GB
Overlap: 80% (or use “DSM/Orthomosaic” setting in FieldAgent Mobile)
Altitude: 50 feet (16 meters)
Speed: 18 MPH (8 MPS)
Time of day: Mid-day (when the sun is highest in the sky)
Conditions: Clear, mostly clear, or overcast
Number of drone batteries needed: 4+
Time to process: 4-6 hours with FieldAgent’s local stitching service, up to 1 business day with a mosaic ordered from Sentera

FieldAgent Spot Maps | Sentera | Fast Population Analysis | Fast Stand Count |Same Day Stand Count

Stitching: several photos taken every acre; 80% overlap

Overlap

Image overlap is one of the primary factors in determining how long a flight takes and how many images are collected. In order to capture crisp imagery that can be stitched together, we recommend using 80% overlap.

Having such a large amount of overlap ensures that every bit of your field is captured at a high resolution — but it also means you’ll be spending much more time getting results. You’ll spend longer in the field collecting imagery while performing several battery swaps, and then more time processing the hundreds or even thousands of images and stitching them together.

Spot Scouting helps you do more in less time.

When using Sentera’s FieldAgent spot mapping feature, you fly with negative overlap, or gaps between images. This allows you to fly more acres and use less battery, all while still getting an accurate stand count within each acre of your field.

Turn spot maps into action

So, what can you actually do with spot maps? Spot mapping can be performed broadly in a plant’s lifecycle (V3 – VT in corn), 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

Mosaics vs. Spot Maps

Sentera solutions offer you the ability to sample plant population using both mosaics and spot maps, and both have their place.

For fast average population estimations at the field edge, use Spot Maps. For detailed, precise population analysis, opt for a full mosaic. Both can be generated for free via FieldAgent, and both can be generated with an RGB sensor, no connectivity required.

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Written by Greg Emerick, Executive Vice President, Business Development

4 Comments
  • Matt Powell
    Posted at 07:26h, 06 June Reply

    Spot Maps looks great, but what must I do when my area is on a slope? Fly multi missions across several altitudes alone the slope or increase drone height?

    • Sentera
      Posted at 12:02h, 06 June Reply

      Matt, Great question! The FieldAgent spot mapping function can accommodate most typical field slopes, however, if your land has a significant change in altitude, then we should have a quick conversation to fully understand your terrain and data-collection needs. Feel free to call us at 844-SENTERA (844-736-8372). Thank you!

      • Matt Powell
        Posted at 07:51h, 11 June Reply

        Hi, the difference in altitude is 328 ft from the start of the citrus orchard to the top (and continues to till the apex of the hill at an additional 70 ft over unimproved bush).

        • Sentera
          Posted at 11:13h, 11 June Reply

          Hi Matt – Customer support will follow up with you as there some follow-on questions. You can expect to see an email from Sentera. Thank you!

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