Image

NEON adds drone-based Leaf Sampling Protocol

5 March 2023

Treetop leaf sampling ( canopy foliar sampling) at forested NEON (The National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network ) field sites just got a whole lot easier. We’ve added a new tool to our kit: an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone. Drone-based foliar sampling has been added as an official NEON protocol for forested sites. The UAV will also be available for use in the Assignable Assets program.

Faster, Safer Canopy Sampling with UAVs

The NEON program has been experimenting with drone-based foliar sampling since 2019, when we conducted a pilot programwith Outreach Robotics, the creators of the DeLeaves tree sampling tool. Since then, DeLeaves has made significant improvements in range, portability, and ease of use for the system.

After training additional pilots in 2021, we decided to invest in a UAV of our own. The Matrice 300 RTK commercial drone is about 2′ by 2.5′ and has a payload capacity of ~3 kg, enough to support the DeLeaves sampling arm, camera, and a foliar sample. It can also be outfitted with other types of equipment, such as a lidar system or spectrometer.

This is the first UAV purchased by the NEON project, though previous flights have been performed at NEON sites using Battelle-owned drones as part of a series of internal research and development (IRAD) grants aimed at improving drone research capabilities across the organization. Battelle operates the NEON program on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Tree foliar sampling is the first drone-based protocol to be added to NEON’s sampling design. NEON collects foliar samples from as close to the canopy top as possible, and does chemical analyses of these samples, to provide ground-truthing for the hyperspectral data from the Airborne Observation Platform (AOP).

Previously, field staff used line launchers to collect leaf samples from the tree canopy—a process that is both time-consuming and imprecise. The line launchers collect leaf samples from the sides of the tree instead of the top of the canopy. This matters because leaves from lower in the canopy do not get as much sunlight as leaves at the top, resulting in different chemical makeup and growth patterns. As a result, it is harder to correlate hyperspectral data from with chemical analysis of foliar samples for ground truthing.

Using drones to collect samples from the canopy tops is safer, faster, and easier than other methods. Using a UAV and the DeLeaves sampling tool, it is possible to precisely target samples from the very top of the canopy—the part of the canopy viewed by the AOP—for better ground truthing data. In addition, the drone protocol saves considerable time in the field.

Dave Durden, a senior research scientist for the NEON program and the primary investigator for the drone project, says, “Canopy sampling is conducted at peak greenness for each site, which is already a tremendously busy time for our field scientists. Anything that gives our field science team some time back is a big win. This has greatly reduced the time needed for canopy sampling.” Using the drone, the team was able to cut time for canopy sampling at mixed forest sites from 3-4 weeks per site to just 1-1.5 weeks per site.

More >>

Source: neonscience

Read More
Image

Earlybird rates end TODAY

Earlybird rates end this Friday for Environmental Forestry Conference On 25-26 June, ourFIEA Annual Environmental Forestry Conference is running. Registrations are going very well. We bring practical foresters together with local regulators and national policy-makers to debate and bring constructive ...
Read more
Image

Decarbonising transport & logistics

New Zealand environmental specialist, Toitū, recently held a panel to discuss how New Zealand’s transportation and logistics industry, the nation’s second-largest emissions source, can take effective climate action. They shed light on the critical pressures facing supply chains and how to respond ...
Read more
Image

FIEA wood residues conference: time for action

Low carbon economies, extreme weather events, and building resilient domestic supply chains are critical issues in 2024 and beyond. In New Zealand, this has created opportunities for the forestry sector, including significant investments in forest residues. Harvesting regulations are mandating more wood be collected from the forest ...
Read more
Image

Calling all NZ loader operators – be part of this study

Driven by mechanisation, traditional career pathways in forestry crews are evolving. As part of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, ‘Te Mahi Ngahere i te Ao Hurihuri – Forestry Work in the Modern Age’, the Scion Human Factors research group ...
Read more
Image

Kiwi bird surprises at Rosvall Sawmill

Workers at Rosvall Sawmill near Whangārei, New Zealand, had an unexpected visitor, a fully grown kiwi bird. The bird casually strolled into the mill early one Monday morning, and spent a few hours exploring the premises before it found a ...
Read more
Image

Every second counts

During hot and dry periods, there is a serious risk of wildfires. Moreover, a single spark can be enough to start one, in which case every second counts. Having fire extinguishing equipment close at hand can make all the difference ...
Read more
Image

Superhuman AI – smarter than every human by 2025

Billionaire tech boss Elon Musk has recently predicted that superhuman artificial intelligence (AI), surpassing human intellect, could become a reality as soon as next year. If this kind of prediction becomes true, are humans ready to embrace that machines can ...
Read more
Image

Swiss develop drone to explore forest canopy

Inspired by cockroaches, Swiss researchers have developed a new drone which can push away obstacles and move past them. In the future, it will be used to measure biodiversity in remote areas. Environmental monitoring in areas with dense vegetation is ...
Read more
Image

NZ forestry H&S statistics updated – March 2024

Safetree NZ has released their H&S stats dashboard for March 2024. WorkSafe provides statistics on forestry fatalities and workplace incidents. These investigations help inform us of any key issues or trends as they come to light. Overall, there is a downward trend ...
Read more