Agricultural UAVs

Commercial use of drones in farms and other agriculture

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Discussion Forum

Why no fixed wing UAV in crop dusting?

Started by Anna Tian. Last reply by Dean Walker on Thursday. 4 Replies

Hi, I have seen multi copters and helicopters UAV used for crop dusting. But I have never found any fixed wing UAV used in this area. As different countries have different farmland size and…Continue

Methods and Software used for stand counts

Started by Morgan Matelski. Last reply by Taylor Glenn on Thursday. 18 Replies

Hello,I was wondering if anyone could share their experiences with estimating populations on photos they've taken with UAVs.  Software or particular methods that you have found to work.  I currently…Continue

The Most Economic Method for sUAS Launch

Started by Richard Burd. Last reply by Richard Burd Jan 16. 6 Replies

All,I would like to know how people in this group are getting their fixed wing systems airborne.  In a recent blog at work I…Continue

VIs from uncalibrated NIR and VIS images

Started by José Alfredo Suárez. Last reply by Alexander Jan 14. 5 Replies

Hi:I've been working with UAV imagery (NIR and VIS) for monitoring sugarcane's post-harvest behavior in Guatemala. The images are uncalibrated and I'm using raw DN numbers for extracting NDVI and…Continue

Tags: VI, NDVI, Crop

Comment Wall


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Comment by Vega Tech Group LLC on December 12, 2014 at 9:10am

I have worked with Headwall Photonics for a number of years as a supplier of high performance camera lenses. This camera, depending on accesories etc, can be any where from $40K for a very basic unit to over $100K.

Keep in mind this is very typical for a camera of this type. Add in specialized imaging sensors, such as sCMOS, SWIR, etc and they could run you over $150K.

Juan, you can email me direct at:

I would be happy to sennd more info on what we are doing in FOPEN(Foliage Penetration).

Comment by Juan Perez on December 10, 2014 at 8:01pm


Michael: what is the price of that Headwall camera?

Vega Tech: I would like to get some info on the FOPEN project please.

Comment by Christian Stallings on December 10, 2014 at 7:15pm

Vega Tech,  Thanks for the links. I look forward to looking into these systems.

Comment by Michael Leasure on December 10, 2014 at 5:29pm
We are getting excellent results with a Headwall Nano Hyper-spec over biofuel optimized sorghum.
Comment by Vega Tech Group LLC on December 10, 2014 at 5:03pm

There are UAV's much more powerful and larger than what is traditionally thought of as a UAV in the consumer market. Our experience has been primarily military, that is where our Sense & Avoid system is going.

Interesting you should mention wide area imaging. I am working on a satellite project at this time. The camera will actually be a full silicon wafer with 30 CMOS imagers on it. Each imager will have a specific spectral filter.

Combined Visible(380-680) & MWIR(3-5um) systems with fused imaging is big right now as well. Cloudcap division of Flir makes this type of system, as well Rafael in Israel.

I am familiar with the Microsoft Ultracam products. They use large format CCD's. I think around 90mp? 

I think this CCD was originally developed for Astronomy? The sensor is cooled to -30C or so for very long exposures when used in Astronomy.

Finger Lakes Instruments makes some large format Astronomy cameras:

TeledyneDalsa makes large format imagers as well:

Got the money, TeledyneDalsa will build you any size CCD sensor you want.

We do have COTS camera systems for the commercial market under $10K, but some run easily over $100K.

Again, my point here is that camera sensors & cameras are readily available that can image, get viable data, and not be hindered by issues with the available light and/or weather. Of course I would not recommend flying your UAV in the middle of a severe weather event.

Comment by Christian Stallings on December 10, 2014 at 2:49pm

Vega Tech,

I apologize, I should have been more specific. I was speaking in regards to the aerial mapping field in general using traditional fixed and rotor wing aircraft's for acquisition for mapping purposes. The systems used in that specific industry generally cost over a million dollars. These are systems like the Vexel series from Microsoft, the DMC series from ZI, and the ADS series from Leica. These systems are designed to cover very large areas with very high resolutions using metric camera systems designed for the sole intent of mapping.  That price is justified by the reliability of the systems and their ability to cover a huge amount of land in a single mission. I think that having a camera system for an sUAS that cost the same would be very difficult to justify for commercial applications. The appeal of an sUAS system in the mapping industry is that it can collect data of a similar but lesser quality of a small area for a small fraction of the cost. I certainly wish you the best of luck and look forward to looking at your projects. I just think you might find difficulty marketing such a system to the commercial market. Perhaps military applications would be better suited for such a system.

Comment by Vega Tech Group LLC on December 10, 2014 at 12:59pm

A typical camera development program can easily be in the millions of dollars.

We are working on a low light(4-e), very high dynamic range(120+db) CMOS sensor program at the moment, cost $1.5M. This sensor is actually for use in a UAV. The application is Sense & Avoid. The sensor will not be saturated flying direct in to strong light, including in to the Sun. With Low Light, the sensors can image in almost any condition, even near total darkness without any form of illumination.

These will be military grade sensors, so they will not have bad pixels, sealed in a water tight ceramic package. Unfortunately, funding is not available to make them Space Grade.

The issue, is the hardware designed for the application? That is where we are going at this time.

Please look up e2V EMCCD's, Fairchild sCMOS, and visit &

Especially EMVA. We are installing an EMVA 1288 test & certification center at the U of Dayton in a few days. I will be there tomorrow unpacking the equipment.

There is a free download of the EMVA 1288 standard on their website.

We are currently working on a FOPEN(Foliage Penetration) project, to incorporate a Hyper-Multi Spectral Hybrid Prism Array Camera, with NIR to 1000nm. The system is designed specifically for Precision Agriculture.

If any one is interested, please send me an email. I would be happy to send specs on these projects.

Comment by Richard Burd on December 10, 2014 at 10:03am

Vega Tech,

Keep in mind that many of our customers are bringing their own drones (BYOD) ™ to the equation and giving us imagery to process from them.  Several have already spent upwards of 10k on drones they purchased from 3rd party vendors.  We do have our own drone that we currently sell (soon to be augmented with a rotary-wing variant) and we are exploring possibilities to expand the range of on board sensors to solve some of the problems I point out in "How do I optimize the quality of my drone imagery?" -but the key is making any solution (hardware or software) a cost-effective one.  Many growers simply are not ready to dish out 20k-30k on a drone.  If Vega Tech has an affordable optics package that can do what you claim then we should talk, I'd love to be able to recommend such a product to customers and colleagues.

Comment by MikeInFrance on December 10, 2014 at 8:45am

@Vega Tech: I understand that you speak out of your own experience, since you seem to be the marketing voice of your company that is selling high end picture processors.

Nonetheless, I would welcome you to post examples of your sayings. This can also be a scientific publication or something like Richard Burd's intervention.

On the other hand, please elaborate how something that is located between the light source and the object to examine will not have an influence on analysis....

Comment by Christian Stallings on December 10, 2014 at 7:54am

Vega Tech,

I don't believe that statement to be true.Camera and lenses quality certainly plays a factor however we have been using metric camera designed for aerial mapping for years. First film and now digital. These systems cost well over a million dollars and we still take into consideration clouds, sun angle, and weather. These variables will always be a factor with airborne image remote sensing.


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