Agriculture drone surveying a farmland

Aerial Drone Surveying
and Mapping

Aerial survey collects data or other imagery using aeroplanes, helicopters, and UAVs. Aerial drone surveying can provide information on many things not easily visible from the ground.

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Transform Farming with Digital Insights And Efficiency

Hiring XAG Australia’s services for aerial drone surveying is a decision worth investing in. The data gathered from aerial drone surveying can provide valuable information on many things and factors not easily visible from the ground. This way, farmers gain more substantial insight into the decisions that need to be made, get a better understanding of the issues so they can adequately strategise for their farms.

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What is aerial drone surveying?

Aerial drone surveying begins with the mapping and surveying process for data collection to assess the terrain and land for farming and other agricultural purposes. It’s a straightforward task with a relatively simple goal. 


Doing an agricultural drone survey will help identify issues and mitigate them before they arise. The agricultural drone equipped with flight planning software will allow the user to draw around the field to be covered. This software creates a fully automated flight path and takes photos depending on the make and model.

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What are survey drones and aerial surveys?

Surveying drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that fly over a defined area with sensors that point toward the ground. They collect high-resolution images and geographic coordinates with professional cameras, LiDAR, or other kinds of sensors. Typically, the drone flies over the area in a predetermined survey pattern, taking overlapping photos at intervals from several angles.

After the drone survey flight, the images and geodata were collected post-processing. Specialised software converts the images and data into ortho-mosaic maps, digital terrain models, 3-D models, and other specialised outputs. The final deliverables can then be analysed to determine distances, angles, measurements, volumes, and additional critical information needed for farming.

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What are survey drones and aerial surveys?

Surveying drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that fly over a defined area with sensors that point toward the ground. They collect high-resolution images and geographic coordinates with professional cameras, LiDAR, or other kinds of sensors. Typically, the drone flies over the area in a predetermined survey pattern, taking overlapping photos at intervals from several angles.


After the drone survey flight, the images and geodata were collected post-processing. Specialised software converts the images and data into ortho-mosaic maps, digital terrain models, 3-D models, and other specialised outputs. The final deliverables can then be analysed to determine distances, angles, measurements, volumes, and additional critical information needed for farming.

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How accurate is a drone survey?

The performance and type of drone, the quality of its components, the camera resolution, the height at which the drone flies, the vegetation, and the method and technology used to geolocate the aerial images can heavily influence the accuracy of the drone survey mapping. High-resolution orthophotos enable surveyors to perform highly-accurate distance and surface measurements with precise measurements. 

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What are the advantages of using aerial surveying drones?

Survey Drones are Faster

 Compared to other methods, aerial surveying drones are faster, less expensive, and have more accurate. Using traditional methods, the amount of time it takes to do a ground survey in a quarter-acre lot is approximately 2-4 hours. The amount of time it takes to survey a 3-acre lot on foot is around 6-8 hours. A drone survey of the same 3-acre lot takes about five minutes (depending on altitude, overlap, and camera specifications). Suppose dense vegetation is present or the terrain is challenging to navigate. In that case, a traditional ground survey could take much longer, whereas the survey drone would not impact its operations.

Drones are More Cost-Effective

Compared to surveys conducted with aeroplanes and helicopters, drones produce better results at a lower cost. Drones fly slower than aeroplanes and helicopters and at lower altitudes.

Therefore, the images that survey drones collect are of higher resolution. (Learn more about Ground Sample Distance.) Higher resolution images are of far greater detail necessary for survey-quality deliverables.

The cost of a helicopter or aeroplane survey is also significantly higher per hour than a drone survey. Typical rates for a helicopter and pilot are hundreds of dollars per hour. Also, drones take much less time to prepare and deploy. Aerial surveying drones can be transported to the survey location and launched as soon as possible. Quicker setup and deployment result in less time needed for the survey, resulting in lower costs.

Surveying Drones are Incredibly Accurate

Data from aerial surveying drones are fed into various software programs to produce precise measurements, maps, and models that can be used in multiple ways, as outlined above. A survey drone with a high-resolution camera flying at low altitudes and speeds can achieve incredibly accurate results. What’s more, the data is persistent, meaning future technologies can leverage it for years to come.

Aerial Drone Surveys Improve Safety

Aerial surveys remove the need to traverse rugged terrain on foot. Surveyors no longer have to worry about unnecessary risks and heavy equipment. They don’t have to lug awkward total stations and rovers over rugged ground. A surveyor has to pre-plan their flight, set up the surveying drone, and deploy the mission from a safe area. The drone autonomously returns to the launch location when the task is complete. The surveyor then packs it up and heads back to the office to process the images.

Precision Contour Mapping

Water management on farms requires accurate measurements of contours for diverting water flows, building dams and leaky weirs and for irrigation purposes. Autonomous drones can fly large areas with accuracies of 1-2cm in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions if required. The contour maps can be displayed by individual contours at any spacing or as a banded colour visual between contours.

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Aerial Orthographic Mapping

An orthophoto, orthophotograph or orthoimage is an aerial photograph geometrically corrected (“orthorectified”) such that the scale is uniform: the photo has the same lack of distortion as a map. Unlike an uncorrected aerial photograph, an orthophotograph can be used to measure true distances, because it is an accurate representation of the Earth’s surface, having been adjusted for topographic relief, lens distortion, and camera tilt. Boorowa, NSW

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Digital Surface Model Mapping

This picture of a research field of wheat is a digital surface model and represents the earth's surface and includes all objects on it. This can then be used for analysis of say the height of the vegetation and measure the variation in height across a grass paddock, the roughness of a wheat crop surface or difference in growth rates between varieties.
This is of a paddock in Boorowa NSW.

Multispectral Mapping for Crops

Light of different wavelengths reflected from crops can be measured and it represents the nature of the the surface, i.e. plants can be distinguished from ground. Depending on the plant and it’s state, different leaves can reflect differently at different wavelengths.
Hyperspectral detection can measure hundreds of specific wavelengths between 350-750 nm and multispectral cameras 4 or 5 bands. Red here is ground, with different shades of green for the vegetation. Wheat crop, Boorowa, NSW

Aerial Photography of Property

Normal RGB cameras can be used to get aerial views of property, plants and animals which can be used as a normal record of a place or an event or the consequence of say a weather event. They can also be used to count vegetation or to get 3D reconstructions of the property. Orchard, Kulnura, NSW

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Drone Inspections of Property

Drones can be used to inspect and analyse a wide range of issues. These could include on farm water structures or off farm, wind turbine generator blades, solar panel, water infrastructure, power-line and towers. 

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XMission is an industrial level surveying drone which can be equipped with two cameras, the XCAM RGB which captures high resolution images of landscapes (1 cm/pixel) and the multi-spectral camera which can capture numerous spectral bands including green, red, red edge, and near infrared.
This versatile, state-of-the-art model is invaluable to capturing outstanding images which can be processed through XAG Cloud or third-party data processing tools to generate NDVI and other index maps and ensuring data is acquired with extreme accuracy. 

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