VisionMap A3 Edge Innovates Precision Agriculture in North Dakota

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SOS’s technology partner VisionMap, a leading provider of airborne imaging systems, announced that its A3 Edge Digital Mapping System was chosen for a large-scale agricultural project commissioned by North Dakota State University (NDSU).

NDSU, a nationwide authority on precision agriculture, is conducting a summer-long survey of North Dakota’s fertile Red River Valley. Flown on a medium size UAS, VisionMap’s system will survey a 160 square mile area at 4-8 cm GSD repeatedly over the course of four months. Imagery of the farmland will be used for agricultural testing, disease detection, and harvest estimation. A3 Edge was chosen as the most efficient and cost-effective solution for collecting such large amounts of data compared to satellite and other imaging systems.

A3 Edge captures up to 1,000 sq.km per hour of high resolution imagery for agriculture and land management applications from an altitude of 4,000 ft. AGL. The system provides high resolution (4cm GSD) near-infrared (NIR) imagery in combination with natural color imagery. The native resolution of the camera’s NIR imagery is identical to the resolution of the natural color imagery, with no pan-sharpening applied. This high level of resolution will make the small plants visible, even at the start of the season.

According to John Nowatzki, Agricultural Specialist at NDSU, “Whereas a satellite might capture your field once every few weeks, VisionMap’s system provides dependable and up-to-date data. The camera’s ability to ‘sweep’ back and forth to collect more imagery more quickly is very advantageous. In the end, the more information you have, the better a job you can do in managing.”

VisionMap’s LightSpeed ground processing system, processes up to 250,000 frames in one photogrammetric block, producing high-end RGB, NIR, CIR and 4-band products in a fast, fully-automatic workflow. The system’s fast turnaround time enables frequent update cycles, and facilitates precise comparison over time.

One of the most important end-products for agriculturalists at NDSU is LightSpeed’s Dense Digital Surface Model (DSM), which indicates potential issues with surface water retention. The DSM, which is obtained from the same initial flight, has a density of up to 400 points per square meter. A DSM created mid-season can also serve as an accurate predictor of crop harvest yield, and can help manage fertilizer input.

“VisionMap systems are designed to be at the forefront of technology; to bring innovation to our customers’ industries and evolving needs,” said VisionMap CEO Dror Zerem. Their ability to fly on manned or unmanned aircraft leverages VisionMap systems’ unique capabilities for a variety of projects. Integration on a UAV enables the system to fly longer, capture more area, and maximize productivity.

In addition to agricultural imaging, A3 Edge is widely used for mapping, oblique and 3D modeling projects around the world.

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