Swiss professional drone manufacturer, senseFly, has optimized its eBee Ag drone solution, adding powerful new software that makes it easy for agricultural professionals to capture high-resolution photos of their fields, analyze crop health and create accurate prescriptions to load into their precision farming equipment.

The eBee Ag now runs a new feature-packed, yet simple to use, version of senseFly’s Postflight Terra 3D data processing software (v3.4). Powered by Pix4D, this program enables farmers, crop consultants and agronomists to easily transform the eBee Ag’s images into quick NDVI maps, geo-referenced index maps and exportable application maps.

These output prescriptions are fully compatible with leading precision farming software and equipment, plus with the eBee Ag a user’s business data remains confidential — no uploading data to the cloud required.

“The cost- and time-saving benefits of using drones to assess crop and soil health are becoming more widely known, however a real pain point up to now has been how to analyse the data UAVs produce and put this data effectively to work,” said Jean-Christophe Zufferey, CEO and co-founder of senseFly. “The new features inside Postflight Terra 3D 3.4—supplied with every eBee Ag—make acting on the drone’s data as simple as planning its flights. Users can fly and produce quick NDVI maps of their crops, identify problem areas, create prescriptions and put them to work all on the same day.”

The drone to tractor workflow explained:

1. Fly the Drone

After generating a flight plan with the drone’s supplied eMotion software, the user throws the eBee Ag into the air to launch it on its autonomous flight. The UAV then flies, acquires high-resolution images and lands automatically.

2. Create a Quick NDVI Map

Once the drone has landed, Postflight Terra 3D is used to create a geo-accurate NDVI map of the field. This map can be opened on any GPS-enabled device to guide the user’s manual crop scouting, walking the field, making observations and possibly collecting samples in order to identify and quantify problem areas.

3. Process & Create a Reflectance Map

Back at the office, after fully processing the flight’s images, Postflight Terra 3D is used to create a more detailed reflectance map of the crop. The user then applies his/her preferred vegetation index (NDVI, SAVI, MSR etc.) to further analyse the crop’s health.

4. Define Application Amounts

With an accurate index map to hand, plus the user’s ground observations and any relevant test results, it’s time to create a custom prescription. This might refer to how many pounds/kilos of fertiliser, pesticide, or herbicide should be applied to a particular classified zone, or even the number of seeds the user will direct their planter to plant. The user decides, based on their knowledge and experience.

5. Put This Data to Work

This application map is exported in shapefile (SHP) format and can be loaded directly into a tractor’s console, opened in the user’s preferred farm management information system (FMIS)—either on a PC or in the cloud—or emailed to an agronomist. It’s the user’s choice.

Watch the drone-to-tractor video guide:

The eBee Ag is a complete precision agriculture solution. It includes all a customer needs to better manage their crops: a fully autonomous drone; an infrared camera; flight planning software (eMotion); and powerful image-processing/index calculation software (Postflight Terra 3D 3.4). (This new and improved version of Postflight Terra 3D is also available as a free upgrade to all existing eBee Ag users.)