Title

Unmanned Aerial Systems for Estimating Canopy Structure and Assessing Vegetation Health in Willow Crops

Date of Award

5-4-2018

Semester of Degree

May

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Major Professor

Dr. Eddie Bevilacqua

Steering Committee Member

Dr. Lindi Quackenbush

Steering Committee Member

Dr. Timothy Volk

Abstract

Off-the-shelf, low cost small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUASs) have been increasingly applied for conservation and management of natural resources. Using sUASs to monitor vegetation health and estimate canopy structure in willow crops could provide an avenue for rapid, quality data collection, similar to applications in precision agriculture. Multispectral imagery was collected at two altitudes over three willow sites in Upstate New York in October 2017. Individual bands were calibrated to account for minor variations in weather conditions during acquisition, stitched into orthomosaics and then used to calculate Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Field measurements including canopy depth, Leaf Area Index (LAI), and location were collected in summer 2017. Significant positive, linear relationships between mean NDVI and field LAI measurements were obtained at East Ava and Solvay with r=0.610 (p>.001) and r=0.432 (p=.004), respectively. An analysis determining differences in computed NDVI values using calibrated and uncalibrated imagery was also performed.

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