Precise information for agriculture and forestry with unmanned aerial vehicles

Development of remote sensing technologies and increased data availability have enhanced possibilities for environmental monitoring in recent years. Aerial laser scanning has already become the main forest inventory method in Finland. Frequently updated satellite data is freely available, which enables almost real-time recognition of environmental changes.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which allow cost-efficient and well-targeted flights on precisely defined areas, have lately raised a lot of interest in field of forestry and agriculture. In addition to regular RGB camera, the UAVs can be equipped with e.g. laser scanner or hyperspectral camera, which can produce very accurate and high resolution information on vegetation and forest structure. This enables efficient and precise work planning for forestry and agriculture. UAVs also offer interesting possibilities for mapping environmental effects of agriculture.

We will pilot using UAVs for work planning related to agriculture and forestry in Maaseutu 2.0 project. The first test flights will be conducted in May-June in Central Finland. The goals include e.g. examining use of UAV for recognizing forest management needs in storm damage areas and young forests, as well as for monitoring state of wetlands, recognizing fertilization zones on agricultural fields and improving the river and lake register.

In addition to Bitcomp, the other project participants are Jyväskylä University of Applied Science (coordinator), Finnish Forest Centre and MHY Keski-Suomi. The project is financed by Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (Central Finland), The Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland 2014–2020, Metsä Group and Nordkalk Oy.

Sanna Härkönen, R&D Manager