WUR Unmanned Aerial Remote Sensing Facility (UARSF)

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:

The following camera types are available:

  • High-resolution orthophoto camera system;
  • Three-band multi spectral system (G, R, NIR);
  • Hyperspectral camera system in range 400-1000 nm with 10 nm spectral resolution.

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 (see below).



Gelderlander, 2012. Landbouw van Morgen: start project Smart Inspectors. Gelderlander 23 maart 2012. p1 en p3 (artikel in krant). 

Kleis, R. ; Kooistra, L., 2012 Met Okkie de lucht in : Wageningen gebruikt drone voor remote sensing. Resource (artikel in magazine).  

Kooistra, L., Beza, E., Verbesselt, J., Van den Borne, J., & Van der Velde, W., 2012. Integrating remote-, close range- and in-situ sensing for high-frequency observation of crop status to support precision agriculture.  In Proceedings Sensing a Changing World, Wageningen, The Netherlands, 9-11 May, 2012 (pp. 15-20). Wageningen, The Netherlands.   

Kooistra, L.; Bartholomeus, H.M.; Becker, R.; Borne, J.; Valkengoed, E. van; Serruys, P.; Voet, P. van der, 2012. Supporting nitrogen management in arable farming using unmanned aerial vehicles. In: Proceedings i-SUP 2012, 3rd Conference “Innovation for Sustainable Production”, 06-09 May 2012, Bruges, Belgium.

Kuilder, E., 2012. Kuilder, E., 2012. Mapping floodplain structure for hydraulic roughness parameterization. Msc thesis Master Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.

Poster: Smart Inspectors: Unmanned Aerial Sensing for Environmental Monitoring.