To support environmental management there is increasing need for timely, accurate and detailed information on our land. Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are increasingly used to monitor agricultural crop development, habitat quality or urban heat efficiency. An important reason is that UAS technology is maturing quickly while the flexible capabilities of UAS fill a gap between satellite based and ground based geo-sensing systems.
In 2012, different groups within Wageningen University and Research Centre have established a Unmanned Airborne Remote Sensing Facility. The objective of this facility is threefold:
- To develop innovation in the field of remote sensing science by providing a platform for dedicated and high-quality experiments;
- To support high quality UAS services by providing calibration facilities and disseminating processing procedures to the UAS user community;
- To promote and test the use of UAS in a broad range of application fields like habitat monitoring, precision agriculture and land degradation assessment.
The facility is hosted by the Laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing (GRS) and the Department of Soil Physics and Land Management (SLM) of Wageningen University together with the team Earth Informatics of Alterra.
Description of facility
The added value of the Unmanned Aerial Remote Sensing Facility is that compared to for example satellite based remote sensing more dedicated science experiments can be prepared. This includes for example higher frequent observations in time (e.g., diurnal observations), observations of an object under different observation angels for characterization of BRDF and flexibility in use of camera’s and sensors types. In this way, laboratory type of set ups can be tested in a field situation and effects of up-scaling can be tested.
The following platforms are available:
- Altura PRO AT8 multicopter system with a fully autonomous flying functionality. The platform allows different sensor types to be attached up to a weight of 1.8 kg.
- Fixed wing system Mavinci with a orthophoto system for automated analysis of digital terrain model.
The following camera types are available:
- High-resolution orthophoto camera system;
- Four-band multi spectral system (G, R, NIR): MUMSY system;
- Hyperspectral camera system in range 400-1000 nm with 10 nm spectral resolution: HYMSY system.
Next to the camera systems, processing facilities are developed for automated processing of the acquired image datasets. From this high-quality products like Digital Surface Models, RGB Orthomosaics and Hyperspectral data Cubes can be derived which will be adopted for research in different application fields.
Currently the following projects are using the UARS Facility:
- Smart Inspectors: The project is aiming at the development of a remote sensing infrastructure using state-of-the-art sensors on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for environmental applications and is funded by the INTERREG IVA program Deutschland-Nederland. Within the project, research organizations (Hochschule Kleve, Wageningen University, Landwirtschaftszentrum Haus Riswick) and companies (BLGG Research, Sceme.de, IMST) are cooperating to bring fundamental research to operational applications. The Wageningen University groups will be responsible for processing of the acquired images to products like nitrogen status of crops and soil organic matter relevant for farmers and nature managers.
- BIOSOS: this project aims to develop tools and models for consistent multi-annual monitoring of NATURA 2000 sites and their surroundings. The emphasis of the project is on NATURA 2000 sites in the Mediterranean part of Europe, but also sites in the Netherlands, Wales and even the tropical rainforest of Brazil are included. For this project, the opportunities of UAS are investigated for the nature reserve Wekeromse Zand in the Netherlands.
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Bartholomeus, H., Suomalainen, J., Kooistra, L., 2014. Estimation of within field variation of SOM using UAV based RGB and elevation data. In: Proceedings of the EGU General Assembly 2014, 27 April – 02 May, 2014 in Vienna, Austria. - Geophysical Research Abstracts 16: EGU2014-5660.
Suomalainen, J., Franke, J., Anders, N., Iqbal, S., Wenting, P., Becker, R., and Kooistra, L., 2014a. Lightweight Hyperspectral Mapping System and a Novel Photogrammetric Processing Chain for UAV-based Sensing. In: Proceedings of the EGU General Assembly 2014, 27 April – 02 May, 2014 in Vienna, Austria. - Geophysical Research Abstracts 16: EGU2014-14473.
Mücher, S., Roerink, G., Franke, J., Suomalainen, J., and Kooistra, L., 2014. Monitoring agricultural crop growth: comparison of high spatial-temporal satellite imagery versus UAV-based imaging spectrometer time series measurements. In: Proceedings of the EGU General Assembly 2014, 27 April – 02 May, 2014 in Vienna, Austria. - Geophysical Research Abstracts 16: EGU2014-15788.
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