Calibration of a common shortwave multispectral camera system for quantitative agricultural applications

Abstract

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for collecting multispectral imagery of agricultural fields are becoming more affordable and accessible. However, there is need to validate calibration of sensors on these systems when using them for quantitative analyses such as evapotranspiration, and other modeling for agricultural applications. The results of laboratory testing of a MicaSense (Seattle, WA, USA) RedEdge™ 3 multispectral camera and MicaSense Downwelling Light Sensor (irradiance sensor) system using a calibrated integrating sphere were presented. Responses of the camera and irradiance sensor were linear over many light levels and became non-linear at light levels below expected real-world, field conditions. Simple linear corrections should suffice for most light conditions encountered during the growing season. Using an irradiance sensor or similar system may not properly account for light variability in cloudy or partly cloudy conditions as also identified by others. A simple stand for aiding in reference panel imaging was also described, which may facilitate repetitive, consistent reference panel imaging.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

Support for the project was provided by: the United States Department of Agriculture—National Institute of Food and Agriculture for an Agriculture Food and Research Initiative grant (Award No. 2017-67021-26249); the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska; the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Agricultural Research Division; and the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station through funding from the Hatch Act (Accession Number 1009760). We thank Dr. John Gamon, UNL, for his advice. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Correspondence to Wayne E. Woldt.

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Barker, J.B., Woldt, W.E., Wardlow, B.D. et al. Calibration of a common shortwave multispectral camera system for quantitative agricultural applications. Precision Agric 21, 922–935 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11119-019-09701-6

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Keywords

  • Unmanned aerial system
  • Remote sensing
  • Calibration
  • Reflectance