It's the type of surveillance to applaud, as these airborne cameras are working to maintain an environmental balance.
Traditional ‘meadow’ orchards in Germany mix multiple varieties of fruit trees together, making the monitoring and management more difficult – unless you have an ‘eye in the sky’.
10 August, 2021
The use of modern geo-technology is intended to indicate the type, vitality, and condition of the local fruit trees and help simplify their maintenance
It’s been three years since the Audi Environmental Foundation began working with Heidelberg University of Education on its project to use drones to monitor orchards in the Bad-Schönborn community. The research has made significant progress in automated, digital classification and assessment of fruit tree stocks, thanks to the accuracy of the software in recognising the tree species has been increased to around 90 percent and information about the vitality of the stock has been derived. The next step is to record and analyse the entire orchard area starting later this year with the aim is of continuously improving the control of the software tools so that they can determine tree types even more accurately and determine the state of health of the trees. Based on these results, tailor-made measures for the protection and maintenance of the stocks are to be developed.
This joint project between the Audi Environmental Foundation and the Geography Department at Heidelberg University of Education, the Karlsruhe District Authority, and the Bad Schönborn Working Group on Habitat, Nature, and the Environment (AHNU) has scored additional core successes with the completion of the test area flights and the high hit rates. The use of modern geo-technology is intended to indicate the type, vitality, and condition of the local fruit trees and contribute to maintaining that stock and simplify its maintenance significantly.
In the long term, this also helps to secure the habitat of native animals and insects. In the next step, the quality of the data is evaluated in detail and through machine learning, the software and the precision of the results will get even better.
To that end, the geographers have used the aerial photos to develop a model for automatically recognising the vitality and condition of the trees in the area. In addition, infrared photos from a multispectral camera help determine the condition of individual fruit trees and differentiate between them. Together with the overlapping photos from the drone camera, the recordings make the condition of the orchard visible in the form of a 3-D model.
The project has also been used to develop educational resources for primary schools as well as conveying the high value of a meadow orchard to visitors and the local population.
“Our foundation works to connect the use of modern technology with ideas about environmental protection,” says Rüdiger Recknagel, Director of the Audi Environmental Foundation.
“This project combines scientific expertise with educational work, environmental education, and individual engagement to create sustainable awareness of habitat preservation and species diversity.”
The project has also been used to develop educational resources as well as educating visitors to the area
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