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3-D Crop Imaging Helps Farmers Estimate Plant Height

Building three-dimensional point clouds from high-resolution photos taken from unmanned aerial vehicles or drones may soon help plant breeders and agronomists save time and money compared with measuring crops manually.

Dr. Lonesome Malambo, postdoctoral research associate, Texas A&M University ecosystem science and management department in College Station, recently published on this subject in the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation.

Crop researchers and breeders need two types of data when determining what crop improvement selections to make: genetic and phenotypic, which are the physical characteristics of the plant. Great strides have been made in genetics, Malambo said, but much work still needs to be done in measuring the physical traits of any crop in a timely and efficient manner. Currently, most measurements are taken from the ground by walking through fields and measuring.

Over the past few years, UAV photos have been tested to see what role they can play in helping determine characteristics such as plant height. Measured over time, UAVs can help assess the influence of environmental conditions on plant performance.

NIFA supports this project through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Read the entire story by Kay Ledbetter on AgriLife Today.

Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Plant health, production, and products;
Agriculture systems and technology;
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment;
Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health;
Agriculture economics and rural communities
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