Recent developments in mapping technology have made possible the practice of spatially responsive agricultural management within fields by using Global Positioning System (GPS) and map sensitive farm equipment. But, while it has been relatively easy to build maps for some within field variables such as soil nutrient, yields, and weeds, the same cannot be said for others such as insects. Current methods of mapping the distribution of within field variables such as insect populations for precision management are labor intensive and uneconomical. In an era of high-tech equipment capability, insect pest management, therefore, stands to suffer because it cannot interface adequately with precision management equipment. This project, which integrates aeronautical engineering and remote sensing technologies, entomology, and precision agriculture, was developed to provide a method for detecting and mapping the distribution of within field variables, mainly insect populations, in agricultural fields. An Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) aircraft that carries remote sensing imaging cameras is used to acquire multispectral data on plant condition within selected crop fields. The system is used to detect the spatial pattern of stressed plants using the spectral signatures gathered by the red and near infrared sensors, which have been shown to be sensitive to plant condition. The data from the two sensors are combined to provide indices of plant health condition such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). The UAV system is used initially in flights over peanut and alfalfa fields, and the images obtained are analyzed to develop maps showing the spatial pattern of plant condition within the selected fields. We plan to correlate the patterns of plant condition from the UAV images with the within field spatial distribution of insect populations.
The ESA 2001 Annual Meeting - 2001: An Entomological Odyssey of ESA