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Pioneering new research paves the way to Miscanthus yield prediction

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  • 2 min read

A new study demonstrates the potential of drones with multi-spectral cameras to predict the number of Miscanthus bales that will be harvested from an annual crop.

The study is part of a tranche of research and development focused on streamlining Miscanthus processes, in order to upscale planting to meet net-zero targets.

Jason Kam, Terravesta R&D manager, is a named author in the new paper released in June 2022 and says if we want to grow more Miscanthus, we need to be able to forecast yields more accurately. “To streamline the logistics supply chain, we’re trying to address calculating yields by flying a drone over a field with a multi-spectral camera.

“We can tell from different intensities of colour what spectrum of energy the plant is absorbing from sunlight, which helps us to determine the growth and status of the plant. Using the angle of sunlight and shade, we can also use a trigonometry calculation to work out how tall a plant is,” explains Jason.

“This is a good indicator of how a crop can yield, but we also have to take into account the variety and age of the Miscanthus, and for this, we will have to build in algorithms about the plant so it can accurately estimate density, and the subsequent tonnage,” says Jason.

The study demonstrates the potential of drones’ multispectral images and data analysis in yield prediction, to determine light interception, plant height, green leaf biomass, and standing biomass.

These technological advances will provide important information needed to increase sustainable biomass production.

The new tech is already being used on some farms and will be more readily employed in the future.