Spectral image camera & software for agricultural monitoring

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VITO Hyperspectral camera

Technology abstract

VITO, a leading European independent research and technology organisation, is headquartered in Belgium. The offer comprises a hyperspectral camera (to be mounted on a variety of small remotely piloted aircraft), image processing and mapping software.  The imaging solution can be used for agriculture monitoring, increasing production yields and reducing operational costs. VITO wishes to transfer its technology as an end-to-end or as a standalone solution.

Technology Description

The hyperspectral camera can be mounted on a variety of small remotely piloted aircraft (rotary or fixed wing) and monitors hundreds of ha in a single flight. The imaging processing software transforms raw data into spectral image products for fast and reliable processing. The image mapping software is able to tailor action and information maps to application specific needs. The camera and imaging software are available as an end-to-end solution or as standalone components.

Potential applications include precision farming (early detection of plant disease, growth and health monitoring, yield prediction, etc.), forest management and environmental monitoring, security and surveillance.

Hyperspectral camera images, which can record several spectral bands, are a significant asset when monitoring agricultural crops. Every pixel of the hyperspectral image contains information from both visible and infrared light. As such, many aspects of vegetation can be monitored far more precisely and far sooner than before: the health of plants and their stress level, a lack or surplus of fertilisation, diseases, and so on.

VITO has been conducting flight campaigns for years with sensitive, but bulky hyperspectral cameras attached to the underside of manned camera planes. In comparison, compact drones of the octocopter type are a lot cheaper and more efficient. A drone is more versatile and is able to register plenty of added details from a low height. VITO built a compact and light hyperspectral camera, helped by a smart chip and filter developed by IMEC, the Flemish research centre for nano-electronics. IMEC’s hyperspectral line-scan imager has 100 static spectral filter structures. This offers the possibility to create more accurate images and detect more variations in comparison to the more common 4 and 5 band cameras on the market.

Innovations & Advantages

Overall, the imaging solution optimizes the farmer’s activities from fertilization, land use, irrigation and harvesting by increasing production yields and reducing operational costs.  Although hyperspectral camera images have been used for years in agricultural monitoring, this solution is far more precise and responsive. First of all because it can be mounted on a variety of small remotely piloted aircraft, which are a lot cheaper and more efficient than manned camera planes. Also because the hyperspectral line-scan imager has 100 static spectral filter structures, producing more accurate images and detecting more variations in comparison to the more common 4 and 5 band cameras on the market. 

Further Information

Specifications camera (at 150m)

  • Swath: 180 m
  • Resolution: 9 cm
  • Spectral range: 600-900 nm - 470-900 nm (in prep.)
  • Spectral resolution: 5-10 nm (70 bands)
  • Mass: 500 g
  • Dimensions (l x w x h): 118 x 63 x 97 mm³


Software features

  • Quicklook : field overview
  • Hyperspectral data cube : all spectral bands
  • Digital surface model: at full resolution
  • Vegetation index map: NDVI, PRI, Vogelmann, red edge, CARI, NDNI,..
  • Action and information map: application specific

Current and Potential Domains of Application

Current

  • Agriculture monitoring (growth and condition of crop)
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Forest management

Potential

  • Security and surveillance
  • Flood and fire detection