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This agriculture-specific multispectral camera from Micasense can be attached to almost any drone, allowing it to perform aerial crop scouting missions to identify problems such as nutrient deficiencies, diseases, and irrigation issues. The RedEdge-MX captures five narrow spectral bands: red, green, blue, red edge, and near-infrared, allowing agricultural professionals to collect accurate, repeatable measurements to perform advanced analysis on plant and soil health.
The RedEdge-MX offers 8cm/pixel resolution at 400ft, ensuring high-quality images, with a capture rate of 1/sec (in all bands). It also boasts a new DLS 2 with embedded GPS for enhanced light calibration, providing improved precision. A removable WiFi module, and SD card slot offer flexibility and control in data management, storage, and transfer. Multiple trigger modes (including timer mode, overlap mode, manual capture mode, and an external trigger button) mean you have control of when and how the camera shoots.
The rugged design, with a metal casing and no moving parts, means that the RedEdge-MX is suited to even the harshest environments. Able to operate in temperatures up to 60℃ (140℉), this sensor is as tough as you need it to be for the work you need it to do.
Analysis is made precise and accurate through multiple layered outputs. These layers allow you to easily compare one location over months and seasons to observe and analyze trends. Layers include a Chlorophyll Map to measure plant health and vigor, a Digital Surface Model (DSM) to evaluate surface properties and water flow, an NDVI layer to compare reflectance of the red and near-infrared band, and the RGB layer which includes narrowband red, green, and blue bands. The RedEdge-MX global shutter ensures that images are distortion-free and aligned to all visible and non-visible bands and vegetation indices. Data obtained with the RedEdge-MX, is in your control, giving you the ability to choose the best data processing platform for your needs. This means you can use the data the way you want, to get the information you need to inform best practice decision-making.
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
As plants become healthier, the intensity of reflectance increases in the NIR and decreases in the Red, which is the physical basis for most vegetation indices. NDVI values can be a maximum value of 1, with lower values indicating lower plant vigor. Therefore, 0.5 typically indicates low vigor whereas 0.9 indicates very high vigor. NDVI is also effective for distinguishing vegetation from soil. NDVI is recommended when looking for differences in above-ground biomass in time or across space. NDVI is most effective at portraying variation in canopy density during early and mid development stages but tends to lose sensitivity at high levels of canopy density.
This layer is a color composite and not an Index. It is referred to as a Color Infrared Composite because instead of combining Red, Green, and Blue bands (which is the standard image display method you are accustomed to) we are combining NIR, Red, and Green bands. NIR light is displayed as red, red light is displayed as green, and green light is displayed as blue (R: NIR, G: RED, B: GREEN). This color composite highlights the response of the Near-infrared band to crop health and water bodies.
Healthy vegetation reflects a high level of NIR and appears red in CIR layers. Unhealthy vegetation will reflect less in the NIR and appear as washed out pink tones, very sick or dormant vegetation is often green or tan, and man-made structures are light blue-green. Soils may also appear light blue, green, or tan depending on how sandy it is, with sandiest soil appearing light tan and clay soils as dark tan or bluish green. This is also highly useful in identifying water bodies in the imagery, which absorb NIR wavelengths and appear black when water is clear. Since this is not an index, as stated above, there is no color palette to select. The colors you see are a result of additive mixture of NIR, Red, and Green wavelengths at each image pixel.
Normalized Difference Red Edge
NDRE is an index that can only be formulated when the Red edge band is available in a sensor. It is sensitive to chlorophyll content in leaves (how green a leaf appears), variability in leaf area, and soil background effects. High values of NDRE represent higher levels of leaf chlorophyll content than lower values. Soil typically has the lowest values, unhealthy plants have intermediate values, and healthy plants have the highest values. Consider using NDRE if you are interested in mapping variability in fertilizer requirements or foliar Nitrogen, not necessarily Nitrogen availability in the soil.
Chlorophyll has maximum absorption in the red waveband and therefore red light does not penetrate very far past a few leaf layers. On the other hand, light in the green and red-edge edge can penetrate a leaf much more deeply than blue or red light so a pure red-edge waveband will be more sensitive to medium to high levels of chlorophyll content, and hence leaf nitrogen, than a broad waveband that encompasses blue light, red light, or a mixture of visible and NIR light (e.g. a modified single-imager camera).
NDRE is a better indicator of vegetation health/vigor than NDVI for mid to late season crops that have accumulated high levels of chlorophyll in their leaves because red-edge light is more translucent to leaves than red light and so it is less likely to be completely absorbed by a canopy. It is more suitable than NDVI for intensive management applications throughout the growing season because NDVI often loses sensitivity after plants accumulate a critical level of leaf cover or chlorophyll content.
The Chlorophyll Map is a layer that is less sensitive to leaf area than NDRE. This layer isolates the chlorophyll signal from variability in leaf area as a function of changes in canopy cover. It has a physiological basis which takes into account the relationship between canopy cover and canopy nutrient content.
The Chlorophyll Map is especially sensitive to well gathered and well calibrated data. Non-plant pixels are excluded and shown as transparent, which in some cases results in plant pixels also being omitted. This layer is less useful for row crops and more useful for vineyards and orchards, as the dense canopy is better at differentiating the Chlorophyll signal.
Digital surface Model
DSM is a digital model representation of a terrain's surface. DSM represents the elevations above sea level of the ground and all features on it. A DSM is a gridded array of elevations. it is a layer symbolized by a gray color ramp, special effects such as hill-shading may be used to simulate relief. DSMs can be used to study surface properties and water flow.
A digital surface model (DSM) is usually constructed using automatic extraction algorithms (i.e. image correlation in stereo photogrammetry). DSM resembles laying a blanket on your imagery. It represents top faces of all objects on the terrain, including vegetation and man-made features, and highlights the different elevations of the features.
The lightweight construction (170 grams) and low power requirement of the RedEdge-MX make it a non-taxing payload for most drones. It integrates with practically any drone on the market, making it easy to make your drone a reliable tool to improve your current agricultural practices, improving productivity and success. And the ability to capture multiple layers of spectral bands in one flight means more efficient use of your time.