Remote Sensing

droneRemote sensing is the science of obtaining information about an object or area through the analysis of measurements made at a distance from the object (i.e., not coming in contact with it). The use of remote sensing in agriculture offers great potential for developing environmentally and economically sustainable management practices.

The NWROC remote sensing research program uses technology to identify insect and disease damage in fields and develop targeted treatment plans. By identifying when and where pest and disease problems are, treatment plans can be developed that apply chemical inputs only when and where necessary, rather than to the entire field.

Currently, we are exploring the use of uninhabited aerial systems (UAS) as a platform for remote sensing. When under disease and insect stress, plants endure physiological and structural changes that cause specific wavelengths of incident electromagnetic radiation (i.e. sunlight) to reflect differently than from unstressed plants. Sensors, such as NearInfrared cameras and radiometers, carried by UAS can detect these differences. Our research focuses on developing the knowledge and technology needed to properly identify the disease or pest problem that is causing the stress the sensors detects.

Research also utilizes other remote sensing technologies, weather analyses, GIS, and other geospatial tools to determine where and when insects are colonizing, establishing and developing populations in fields. We use a number of vehicles and aerially mounted sensors and have obtained federal permission to operate on all of the U of M Research and Outreach Centers. Projects currently are underway at the NWROC, the Sand Plain Research Farm and the Rosemount Research and Outreach Center.  We collaborate with faculty from within CFANS, the rest of the University of Minnesota, UND, and NDSU as well as with industry from several states to maximize the effectiveness and success of our research efforts.

Contact Information

Crop Scouts in the Sky


2014-15 LiveBIG: Minnesota's Drones