Multispectral imaging camera sensors are playing a vital role in agriculture, especially when integrated with a drone.
This imaging technology uses a range of wavebands - including red, red-edge, and near-infrared - to highlight a wealth of meaningful agricultural insights, which in turns leads to smarter and more informed farming.
Generally speaking, multi-spectral sensors collect light from various wavelengths that the human eye cannot distinguish. This imagery helps farmers learn more about soil productivity, plant health, estimate crop yields, and manage irrigation, among other things.
Among the many benefits of multispectral imaging, farmers can find out about NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index); the index of plant greenness and the classic indicator of plant health. NDVI data enables agriculture professionals to learn more about canopy coverage, pest outbreaks, soil moisture, and how to optimise crop rotation.
Farmers can also collect data from multispectral vegetation bands for a range of insights. These bands include:
- Green: Relates to the reflected energy in the 500-600 nm spectral band, and helps detect chlorophyll levels.
- Red: The reflected energy in the 600-700 nm spectral band. For crops, this gives excellent contrast between plants and soil.
- Red-Edge: A very narrow band (700-730 nm) on the entry point to near-infrared. This band is sensitive to plant distress and provides information on chlorophyll, which is useful for crop-health analysis and plant counting.
- NIR (Near-Infrared): The wavelengths in the 700 nm - 1.3 µm range. It offers strong reflectance and is used to show chlorophyll levels. NIR can be used to monitor changes in crop health and productivity.
Because multispectral imaging plays an important role in agriculture, numerous drone solutions are on the market to enable this data collection.
The DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral is an all-in-one, out-of-the-box solution, with the ability to capture RGB and multispectral data covering the blue, green, red, red-edge, and near-infrared bands.
Other leading solutions include the RedEdge-MX Dual Camera Imaging System, from MicaSense, providing 10 bands for advanced remote sensing and agricultural research. It can be integrated with DJI drones, such as the Inspire 2, and UAS in the Matrice 200 Series.
Meanwhile, the 4P and 4P+ sensors, from SlantRange, allow accurate data collection across six spectral bands, and can be integrated with DJI DRONES through DJI’s Payload SDK.