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The RedEdge-MX by Micasense is a professional multispectral camera that is specifically designed for agricultural operations. It can be attached to almost any drone and aids in spotting problems such as nutrient deficiencies and diseases in crops from high up in the air, thanks to its five built-in narrow spectral bands: red, green, blue, red, red edge, and near-infrared. It allows agricultural professionals to take accurate, repeatable measurements and collect other necessary data during each flight to come up with everything from basic plant health indexes to advanced analytics.
Results are presented in multiple layered outputs so you can easily compare them between months and seasons. These include the Chlorophyll Map for accurately measuring plant health and vigor, the Digital Surface Model (DSM) for evaluating surface properties and water flow, the popular NDVI layer for comparing the reflectance of the red band and the near-infrared band, and the RGB (color) images.
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 RedEdge-M integrates into almost any drone and turns it into a reliable tool for agricultural productivity and success. It’s powerful, compact, and extremely lightweight at only 170 grams, which means the aircraft will not have any payload issues once the RedEdge-M is mounted.
With no moving parts, it is built to last for a long time—even in the harshest environments.