How Far Can Consumer-Grade UAV RGB Imagery Describe Crop Production? A 3D and Multitemporal Modeling Approach Applied to Zea mays. Remote Sensing,10, 1798. 12p.
In recent decades, remote sensing has increasingly been used to estimate the spatio-temporal evolution of crop biophysical parameters such as the above-ground biomass (AGB). On a local scale, the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) seems to be a promising trade-off between satellite/airborne and terrestrial remote sensing. This study aims to evaluate the potential of a low-cost UAV RGB solution to predict the final AGB of Zea mays. Besides evaluating the interest of 3D data and multitemporality, our study aims to answer operational questions such as when one should plan a combination of two UAV flights for AGB modeling. In this case, study, final AGB prediction model performance reached 0.55 (R-square) using only UAV information and 0.8 (R-square) when combining UAV information from a single flight with a single-field AGB measurement. The adding of UAV height information to the model improves the quality of the AGB prediction. Performing two flights provides almost systematically an improvement in AGB prediction ability in comparison to most single flights. Our study provides clear insight about how we can counter the low spectral resolution of consumer-grade RGB cameras using height information and multitemporality. Our results highlight the importance of the height information which can be derived from UAV data on one hand, and on the other hand, the lower relative importance of RGB spectral information.