Sentera NDVI sensor turns your DJI Phantom or Mavic Pro into a valuable agriculture tool
Now I have to admit, professional applications of enthusiast drones has never interested me for a number of reasons. Mostly because I’ve always pictured professional drone scenarios to require a large piece of equipment that doesn’t fit into a backpack. Sentera NDVI sensor turns drone into a valuable agriculture tool! I’ve never pictured drones like DJI’s Phantom series or Mavic Pro as a suitable fit. This is not a negative by any means, but consumer/enthusiast level drones are small and have (until now) excelled at one thing: aerial photography.
Obviously, with something small that flies through the air the biggest issue is weight and distribution of that weight, the challenge will always be “how do we integrate additional features and weight without jeopardizing stability and flying capabilities?”
Sentera NDVI sensor turns drone into a valuable agriculture tool!
I’ll get to what NDVI means in a moment, but first:
The new additional component Sentera has developed appears to seamlessly integrate into the existing body of the DJI drone while maintaining the integrity of flight.
What is NDVI?
NDVI stands for “Normalised Difference Vegetation Index”. I’ll admit this didn’t mean a whole lot to me so I did some research and I have to say, I’m totally hooked and completely fascinated.
NASA defines NDVI as a measure to determine the density of green on a section of land.
This is possible by analyzing a graphical image that contains different wavelengths that consist of different colors reflecting sunlight off the plants.
When sunlight hits an object certain light is absorbed by that object and certain wavelengths are reflected. The pigment in plantation (called chlorophyll) absorbs visible light while the cell structure of the leaves reflects infrared light. The more leaves a plant has, the more light is reflected.
“NDVI is calculated from the visible and near-infrared light reflected by vegetation. Healthy vegetation absorbs most of the visible light that hits it, and reflects a large portion of the near-infrared light. Unhealthy or sparse vegetation reflects more visible light and less near-infrared light. The numbers on the figure above are representative of actual values, but real vegetation is much more varied.” – http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov
How does NDVI and drones work together?
Prior to the development of drones and other UAV technologies that allow farmers to analyse their land, one of the only options available to them was to fly a plane or helicopter over their crops and either take notes of their observations or take photos for further analysis.
I’m sure NDVI sensors have been around for a lot longer than drones but these sensors still required an aircraft to carry them over large areas of land.
Technology such as sensors and pocket-sized drones has allowed companies such as Sentera to develop portable, reliable and super effective solutions for those in agriculture.
What does it look like?
Wait, what about weight distribution you mentioned earlier?
Good question, and this is one of my biggest questions and concerns.
Sentera say on their website this sensors allows you to “preserve functionality” of your DJI drone. The stock setup of your drone remains in tact and the camera and gimbal stay as is.
However, there’s no mention of how this sensor (as small and lightweight it is) will affect the flight characteristics of the drone.
The size of the NDVI camera is quite small, measuring in at slightly bigger than a matchbox:
This is emerging technology, no doubt about it. I’m not talking about the NDVI module or drone as individual components, both have been around their respective industries for quite a while. It’s amazing that farmers, and those involved in agriculture, are now able to access a hugely valuable tool for less than $4,000USD when the previous option was the buy or lease, and fly a helicopter that sets you back a minimum of 6-figures.
If you’re wishing to turn your DJI drone into a possible business, or are a farmer that requires a valuable tool, more information can be found here: https://sentera.com/dji-ndvi-upgrade/
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