RIT professor co-designed drone imaging system that can determine grape farm health

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HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — Professor Jan van Aardt has received a grant — for $357,000 — from the United States Department of Agriculture for a drone that uses imaging sensors to determine the health of grape vineyards.

Van Aardt is part of a larger consortium led by Washington State University. This consortium worked van Aardt and his team in determining what this drone would need to sense to be an effective tool for the farmers. This partnership also extends to Cornell University in surveying and collecting samples.

The technology — hyperspectral imagining and LIDAR — has been been tested by RIT student Rob Chancia.

But as we do when we tackle these science let’s first meet our expert, go over these terms, the technology, and how this will help farmers grow the best wine grapes possible.

Our expert

Van Aardt is from South Africa, and after coming to the US to study forestry and imagery at Virginia Tech, he stared at RIT in 2008.

“I’m the one who uses a remote sensing data to analyze forests,” he said.

Through this field, he is able to examine the health of a forest or farm, determine if harmful chemicals are in a nearby water source, or if plants are getting the right kinds of nutrients (for grape farmers, that would be nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, to name a few).’

Read more: Drones, thermal cameras used to locate missing Rutherford County juvenile in freezing weather

That blossomed into a love of growing a research solution into practical solution. This often means taking incredibly complex technology — like this drone — into something that an everyday person can use and can benefit from.

Key terms

“I work with two technologies,” he said. “Principally one is hyperspectral meaning many color channels. You and I see blue green, red hyperspectral sensor sees outside when you be as humans. See, but the catches, it sees it does that in an many narrow channels, contiguous channels. So it really enables us to sense the entire electromagnetic spectrum.”

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Source: Dan Gross

Photo credit: Press



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