Why Precision Farming?
Precision Farming is about combining the use of sensors, computers and knowledge about nature. It starts with the adoption of geographic information systems (GIS) to document crop location and material flows in and out of each of the farm's blocks. Data captured on the farm is georeferenced to allow data analysis: where did the farm perform well, where is intervention needed. The aim is to achieve uniformity, a quality indispensable to manage large companies.
Local farm management is supported by drone surveys to measure the plants' health with sensors that reveal data inaccessible to the human eye. Farms consist of milions of individual plants; assessing their overall health condition is a major challenge. Moreover, with many trees to look at, it is easy to miss the little details.
The resulting images from the drone's camera are processed into useful information, the most common being the Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI). The pictures are used to define management zones which require special care or possibly a differentiated fertilization.
RGB picture vs. NDVI: on the RGB picture (color) everything seems fine; the NDVI however, shows that the bottom half of the vineyard needs intervention (picture link from here)
When is LiDAR useful?
When planning large infrastructure projects a detailed LiDAR survey of the topography allows for precise measurements of elevations and the simulation of alternative scenarios of e.g. the path of large water supply channels and pipes.