High-throughput plant phenotyping is gaining momentum each year among the entire agro-industrial sector and particularly among plant breeders. At Hiphen, we spent the past five years in fields and trial microplots, conducting smart farming experiments or simply flying drones routinely for clients demanding high-value agronomic traits. One of the many lessons we learned over the years is that one cannot pay enough attention to the UAV flight plan.

A major topic in crop imaging solutions

Too many times we heard companies coming to us to say, ‘we need your help, the data we collected is not usable because the images are too blurred ’ … or ‘we did not use enough ground control points ’ … or ‘the multispectral images registration failed ’.

Most often, we noticed that it is due to the selection of inadequate sensors or an inappropriate set of flight parameters. This is where Hiphen can start to add value in that we are here to support you in getting your UAV plans right from Day1, thus ensuring that your dataset will be usable in the end. Given the large budgets involved in phenotyping campaigns, this is worth considering indeed.

 

A single project document tailored to your needs

​That valuable UAV flight checklist we provide each client with contains more than 20 critical drone and sensor parameters that we define together, by listening to your objectives and constraints. Together, we will review the drone and sensors required based on your budget, based on the traits you are interested in and based on the phenologycal stage at which to acquire the information. Then will follow the set of recommendations in the checklist concerning the appropriate flight altitude, front- and side-overlap, ground sampling distance, time of acquisition, sensor orientation, ground control points, radiometric targets, data structure and upload, and so on.

Your team of drone operators will only have to refer to this simple document when setting up their flight plan in the UAV tablet app, wherever they are in the world – ensuring consistency and quality across datasets. This will be one of the worries we can lift off your shoulders.

We have indeed developed this set of data acquisition protocols and checklist – often referred to as Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) – to make life easier for you and your team, to ensure data quality, and to support you in training your technical staff.

The digital revolution brought by high-throughput plant phenotyping often requires leading agro-companies to in-house new skills. One experienced breeder might be facing the challenge to have to hire a UAV operator to fly drones in several fields across several countries during the entire campaign – something rather unthinkable just a few years ago.

Our clients deciding to in-house data acquisition can benefit from training sessions provided by our experienced UAV operators who guide your technical staff towards the best tactics and methods to to do a fine job at acquiring data (including common mistakes to avoid). The same applies to our partners that decide to outsource data acquisition and need our help to train the third-party they subcontracted to (most of the time not versed in the use of drones for agriculture applications).

Our philosophy goes way beyond just flying a drone, and if you would like to hear more about it and get your very own UAV flight checklist, please get in touch by email at contact@hiphen-plant.com. Lastly, feel free to consult our scientific paper archive that contains tones of information about UAV methods we developed over the past years at CAPTE.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Photo credit: ©Thomas O’Brien - VPA

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