Integrating multi-sensor UAS into irrigation research in Eastern Arkansas

Authors: John Nowlin*, Arkansas State University, Ahmed Hashem, Arkansas State University, Steve Green, Arkansas State University, Joe Massey, USDA - ARS - Delta Water Management Research Unit
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Applied Geography, Environmental Science
Keywords: UAS, agriculture, irrigation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Harding, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper presents the use of unmanned aerial system (UAS) for remote sensing to improve irrigation practices in Eastern Arkansas. Irrigation is increasing in the Mississippi Embayment. Withdrawals from the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer (MRVAA) are on the rise. A spatial pattern of groundwater drawdown has developed which might threaten access to groundwater for some more than others. The portion of the MRVAA east of Crowley’s Ridge tends to have better recharge than to the west of Crowley’s Ridge. This research project is about developing farming practices which might reduce reliance on fossil water, especially in areas with dropping well depths. This paper highlights the use of UAS for remote sensing of an irrigation treatment study. The site sits above a cone of depression in the groundwater on the west side of Crowley's Ridge in Cherry Valley, Arkansas. At this site we are collecting data with a UAS carrying a multi-spectral camera and a thermal camera, along with installed soil moisture sensors and a weather station. From the resulting data we are estimating Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Leaf Area Index (LAI), chlorophyll II index, surface temperature, crop heat stress, and soil heat flux. Since this research project is in its first year, we will outline our basic field operations, set-up, calibration and integration of the equipment and sensors into ongoing research farming operations. Notably, the simultaneous collection of data from multiple sensors and a basic overview of peripheral management will be highlighted.

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