Growing Precision Agriculture at GEO Jobe GIS

Orthomosaics. Contours. 3D models. That is only a snippet of what our UAV Division regularly produces for clients across the country to support their surveying and planning operations.

And we now have even more to offer.

Over the past several years, the GEO Jobe UAV Division has worked hard to match the growth and advancements occurring in the world of drones, adding new equipment to our repertoire as it becomes available in order to bolster our already hefty list of deliverables. That growth continues into 2019 with multispectral mapping. For those who rely on crops for their livelihoods, being able to visualize vegetation health is critical, and using drones with multispectral sensors to capture this information is a game-changer.

Imagine owning a 450-acre farm — about 340 football fields. That’s just larger than the average American farm in 2016, according to Successful Farming magazine. Now imagine having to navigate through countless rows of crops to conduct visual inspections several times each season. During these inspections you would be interested in the amount of red, red edge, and near infrared (NIR) light being reflected by your crops, as those are indicators of vegetation health. However, while you are out in the field, you are faced with a rather significant roadblock: red edge and NIR light fall beyond the visible spectrum and cannot be detected by your eyes. Flying a drone with a multispectral sensor allows us to capture that light, ultimately cutting the time required to inspect a field and improving the quality of the inspection. After collecting the multispectral imagery, we produce index maps (NDVI, NDRE, etc.) to visualize vegetation health. These maps help us identify sections of crops that are struggling, perhaps as a result of inadequate drainage, pests/diseases, or poor soil quality.


Top: NDRE map. Bottom: NDVI map. Each index provides different information, depending on the point in the growing season. Consulting both can improve the analysis.

A major benefit of utilizing UAVs in surveys (of all kinds!) is the ability to maintain consistency between repeated flights. If you inspect your fields multiple times throughout the growing season, you would, in theory, want the procedure and products to be the same; comparing apples and oranges benefits no one. Once an index map is created, it can be layered on top of maps from previous flights and directly compared to the others to assess changes over time.

We understand that the agriculture industry is very time-sensitive, especially when it comes to threats to productivity. Our turnaround is incredibly quick, which makes it possible to ground-truth and manage issues within a day or so of the flight. If a farmer or agronomist needs to collect soil or tissue specimens, they can use an index map to methodically select sections from which to take the samples, allowing for a well-rounded assessment of the field. If it is determined that certain areas need a higher nutrient input than others, we can even work with clients to produce prescription maps to be used with their applicators. Our ultimate goal is to provide farmers with the information necessary to maximize yield and minimize input. If you need a farm inspected, head over to www.flythis.net to create a project and get a free quote!

Christine Munisteri

Jr Solution Engineer