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Novel Ways to Extract Plant Canopy Information from a Vineyard using UAVs and Structure from Motion (SfM) Data and Imagery for Precision Viticulture (PV)

Project Description

Remote sensing has been widely used for some time in precision agriculture as well as in viticulture, in many parts of the world, including Europe. Where small fragmented plots are used to cultivate grapevines traditional remote sensing has not been used very often because of the scale problem. Low-cost and easy to use UAVs are now able to carry small high resolution cameras with considerable scope to explore the application of remote sensing and digital image processing to acquire aerial imagery and data of a vineyard, particularly for vineyards that are not easily accessible. In recent years rapid developments in small fixed wing and multirotor drone platforms together with miniaturised remote sensing technologies have provided the basis for agriculture and horticulture to gather low-cost, high resolution aerial data and imagery for small area sites. In Precision Viticulture (PV), numerous applications of multi-rotor UAV platforms have now been undertaken to acquire many different types of imagery from vineyards including colour and colour infrared photography, thermal imagery, NDVI, multispectral and hyperspectral datasets. For the most part, the imagery acquired has been analysed visually, converted into aerial mosaics, and in some cases input to digital image processing software for further semi-automated analysis. The primary purpose of acquiring this data has been to interpret the imagery to identify differences in for example: the health status of the vine plants and canopy, as well as to provide information on deficiencies in soil moisture and status of the cover crop. More recently, the capability to generate 3D images from overlapping aerial imagery - with the aid of SfM (Structure from Motion) software, tools and techniques - has provided a new opportunity and potential to yield detailed structural information about plant canopies e.g. in the vineyard e.g. leaf density, angle and orientation, together with 3Dimensional information about the plant canopy that can be particularly useful to derive accurate non-destructive information for plant canopy modelling. Structure from Motion (SfM) is a photogrammetric technique using overlapping RGB images taken from different positions to recreate a 3D model of physical objects.Smart technologies are having a major impact on all agricultural and horticultural activities around the world e.g. Internet of Things, The Cloud, online information processing, mapping and communication, and to this end his project will utilise a small UAV platform and a number of different remote sensors to provide spatio-temporal imagery and data about the vine canopy at the vineyard scale, and to create 3D models of the vineyard canopy. The data and information acquired will be ground-truthed at the time of the overflights in order to determine the accuracy of the information obtained from the 3D canopy model in comparison to the field data acquisition exercise. The project will make use of a number of different UAV platforms, aerial data acquisition sensors, and softcopy photogrammetry software to test the data acquisition capabilities of the sensor and software, the optimum flying heights, manual and autonomous data acquisition as the basis to aid in information for vineyard management.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Geography Plant and Soil Science, Agriculture/Horticulture or similar

Essential Background: Geography, Plant and Soil Science, Agriculture/Horticulture, GIS, remote sensing, geovisualisation, and fieldwork experience

Knowledge of: Geography, Plant and Soil Science, Agriculture/Horticulture, GIS, remote sensing, geovisualisation, and fieldwork experience

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.


This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Geography and Environment/Horticulture. Formal applications can be completed online: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply. You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR and EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM. Applicants are limited to applying for a maximum of 2 projects. Any further applications received will be automatically withdrawn.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr D Green ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter and to discuss potential project proposal development.. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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