UNIVERSITY researchers have warned farmers to beware drone imagery offered by rogue operators.
The study conducted by the University of Queensland (UQ) and University of New England (UNE) showed drone imagery sold “off-the-shelf” was unlikely to provide accurate information to farmers regarding plant health.
UQ Remote Sensing Research Centre, researcher, Yu-Hsuan Tu, said he understood why farmers were tempted to use drone technology for farm managment.
"However our research has shown that the high-tech, multi-spectral sensors used to collect images from the drone must be processed in a certain way to obtain correct information for horticultural farming applications,” he said.
Mr Tu said one of the biggest problems in the use of drones was related to inconsistencies in the way light is reflected off the surface of vegetation, which could result in incorrect information if the data isn't processed in the right way by experienced operators.
Mr Tu has created an algorithm that corrects these variations to ensure the delivery of consistent data for farmers.
He is now working to establish standardised protocols for the acquisition and processing of drone imagery for tree crops to assist commercial suppliers and growers.
Until then, he said farmers should undertake appropriate due diligence before spending substantial money on drone imagery for horticultural applications.
"While the science behind our work is complex, the message to farmers is simple,” he said.
“Use drone technology at your risk.
“More work needs to be done before drone technology can accurately determine the health of crops.”