We need to survey about 23,000+ Hectares of agriculture land and wondering what drone options we got given

(a) We have to survey really large area and small amount of time.

(b) We need to scan whole area say 3-4 times in a 8 months, over the season of crop to record growth.

(c) RGB + NDVI camera is good enough for now.

(d) Drone which is easy to repair, as I am sure there will be many crashes during operations..

Would it make more sense for to assemble it our own given we would need bunch of them, and we would need quick turn around time in case of repair/crash...

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I would go with the SenseFly.  I saw a demo, they're easier to fly and estimated flight time is 1.5 hours.  A crash isn't going to do much damage to it and you don't need a big take off/landing area like the other fixed wings.  

I've seen the precision hawk too...let's just say I'd go with the ebee.  

Otherwise, I'd agree on an airplane.  The whole purpose of using a drone is to lower the cost of using a plane.  Honestly, at this point in the game a plane is still the way to go for these large areas. 

I tried to compute an estimate for your spec, at 5cm/pixel, using the GoPro camera, (1440x960, 12MP), assuming down-facing camera with drone flying at 30m altitude, is 60m x 48m of ground per photo, so at 20m/s flight speed, one picture every 40m to get overlap, one picture every 2 seconds.  Aprox 1200 sq/m per second, so 8 seconds per hectare,  approx 450 hectares per hour.

This is just a rough guess, so about 52 hours of flight time assuming perfect conditions.  Accounting for unknowns, crashes, etc... double it to 100 hours flight time. 

Definitely do not need manned aircraft for a survey of this size. Easter Island is about 70% of this size of your project and they did it in less than a week. http://www.suasnews.com/2015/10/38907/ag-wing-has-covered-41250-acr... 


5cm x 5 cm /pixel means 10cm x 10 cm /pixel in overlap mode.

Better resolution is offered by Google Maps imaginery for many regions on free basis

100 hours flight time doubles to 200 hours ( battery replacement, SD card replacement,

lens cleaning)

5 hours flight/ day, so job is done in 40 days

If insolation level matters, early morning images don't match late afternoon images.

If your drone crashes you need to order spare parts, wait 2-3-7-30 days (India)

Amazon delivery per drone not offered for India yet.

Get faulty, damaged parts replaced.

So job can be done within 3 months time limit.

Manned aircraft + cameras array can cut costs by half vs.

2 drone operators/ pilots + 1 service man, hired at T$5/ month x 3 months

T$50 + drone + service shop + parts

You can spend the same money to buy/ hire small manned aircraft to do that job within 1 week's time

@Darius you may be correct about the cost. It's not my point to argue for drones here. Just relating my own experience with drone surveying and building drones. It's pretty inexpensive to build a drone and if you can 'do it yourself', (which is the point of this website), then you can save a bundle of money. I have a friend that used to be in the helicopter surveying / video business and drones put him out of business. He now fly's cargo planes. 

Ruchit, do you have any resolution requirements and could you clarify the RGB + NGB requirement? A couple more things to consider are:

1) That 1000 acre E384 spec you mentioned is for 5cm/pixel - we don't normally fly any higher than that but anecdotally a customer has used a single E384 to collect 1800Ha in a day at 8cm/pixel. I wouldn't bet on that day in and out for months on end, but demonstrates some feasibility.

2) The E384 only carries one camera at a time in stock configuration. If you need both RGB and NDVI (NGB or NIR or multispectral) that will likely double the collection time. Our NDVI cameras would get NIR, G, B but not the red channel. Adding an RGB camera to the plane is possible but will affect flight time. Alternatively a multispectral camera like a RedEdge would get all the proper bands at low weight, but their lower resolution and (not sure, but I'm guessing likely) narrower field of view will require lower flying and higher sidelap to achieve the same resolution, which will affect area coverage again.

Definitely a multi-faceted problem! Hope this info helps.

Ok. If you have a big budget..... then you can find drones that do whan you want.
But... you start with a Event airframe... so i thougt your budget is not 30.000 us dolars.
I fly both, manned and unmanned aircrafts. if you can have a manned aircarft near your field, then i can tell you how to buid a platform with almost the same hardware than a uav and make profesional jobs with a low budget.
If you use a uav to do the job reliable and minimizisg rosks then you need 3 man on the field. even with a solution as the ebee you need at least 2 man.
But.... if you do it in a manned aircraft, you rent the airplane with a pilot, so you dont have to worry about that person. you can do all the rest.
PS. Hola Jose !!.

Me gustaria comunicarme con vos. Yo tambien soy argentino y quisiera conversar con vos. Gracias.

Un gusto Martín, en cualquier momento.

Hi RG,

we are a remote sensing service company and use a UAS similar to the E384 we build it our self.

we we work with a teem of agriculture guys from the academy that has a proven cases/ work of increasing crops 

we also provide a build, training and support service for this costumers local here in Israel and also abroad.

our systems can do servay up to 4,500 Hectares per day and the computer analysis can take also time but I believe you already know that.

currently we are developing a UAV similar to the Skywallker X8  made from carbon fiber for low wight and long flight time.

feel free to contact me direct for more information bennys@agrimapic.com


May I suggest these two otions:

Aeromapper Talon: Aeromapper Talon: Easy to repair, dual camera options NDVI + RGB simultaneously, really affordable, parachute landing, long range, 80 nins endurance, easy for ANY terrain.

And Aeromapper 300: Aeromapper 300: Carbon fiber, 90-100 min endurance, also dual simultaneous sensors NDVI + RGB, parachute landing, great area coverage per flight as cruise speed is a little faster than Aeromapper Talon, long range.

Both units are dependable, very reliable, mature and with great support. Spare parts are also affordable.

For the current price of other long endurance, long range UAVs out there you can get several Aeromappers...

For large projects like this where you will encounter difficult terrain surely a great thing to have is the parachute landing and dual sensor, both of which Aeromao's UAVs offer. Dual sensor will cut youf flight time by half, and the parachute.... I can't describe how helpful this is as this will bring down the UAV intact every single time.

Even with other low speed UAVs that belly land automatically they will at some point hit a tree or a rock, or just the ground, breaking something, but the parachute saves the plane and saves you tons of time and headache.

We did thousands and thousands of hectares during 2004 to 2008 using UAVs and we would have given ANYTHING  to have something with a parachute system at that time.  Parachute landing is the way to go for large ops.


Just joined this site and group. Thought I'd try to add to the conversation.  My background is remote sensing - PhD in geology and I got into UAVs because of the capability of getting good data at excellent resolution.  

If you want to cover large areas you need an efficient aircraft as others have pointed out.  I joined UASUSA because their Tempest aircraft had the best capabilities of any I had heard of. We've integrated various cameras, the MicaSense RedEdge for agriculture, LiDAR, magnetometers, and plan on integrating hyperspectral sensors of which I have extensive experience.  We have had a number of customers who, after trying various other UAVs, come to us because of the capabilities of the Tempest. 

From my perspective you need to define what you want for payload and then pick a UAV that has good endurance and can fly in sub-optimal conditions.  The Tempest was made to do tornado research so it can handle 70 mph winds.  You want to minimize the number of down days in a survey. 

Our typical agriculture package is the RedEdge multispectral sensor and a Sony a7R - dual payload of course. For accurate work over large areas I recommend a multispectral sensor that can give you reflectance data. The RedEdge can do this. Getting to reflectance means eliminating atmospheric effects, accounting for detector sensitivities, and removing the shape of the solar irradiance curve. This allows you to effectively compare one collection to another so that you can monitor real change.

More info at UASUSA.com

Joe, can you give an idea of price for a typical agricultural package?


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