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Title: Filling the sensor gap : applying UAS technology to land-use research
Author: Gibson-Poole, Simon John
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 5939
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2019
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Collecting data at ground level typically yields the most detailed information on a subject, however it is limited by the spatial extent that can be covered within a specific timeframe. Remote sensing from an aerial platform increases this spatial extent and the deployment of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can provide this ability directly to researchers at an affordable cost and at data resolutions that are very applicable for site specific surveys. Further to this, developments in photogrammetry software allow the creation of orthorectified spectral and structural data that can that can be classified via pixel or object-based analysis methods and applied to a wide variety of different land-use research areas. In this study a sensor package was created consisting of two off the shelf digital cameras, one un-modified and the other modified to be sensitive to near infra-red wavelengths of light. A multi-rotor aerial platform utilising an open source autopilot was assembled to enable data collection and a processing pipeline was devised to transform RAW camera imagery into georeferenced and orthorectified data, using computer vision software following the structure from motion (SfM) approach. This remote sensing tool was applied to a variety of land-use research study sites in central Scotland and Northern England with two main areas focused on. (1) The use of spectral and structural data for the detection of disease within a potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) crop revealed that UAS could be an effective tool for mapping the distribution of diseased plants. (2) Comparisons between aerial data and traditional manual assessments of a trial crop of potatoes revealed that the earliest stages of plant emergence could not be detected but later plant counts, and ground cover estimates correlated well, indicating that UAS could be an effective trials monitoring tool, giving extra structural data and potentially a more representative measure of canopy ground cover compared to traditional manual techniques. This study also showed results from experimental applications investigating the mapping of invasive non-native species and ways of enabling upscaling of greenhouse gas emissions from different land use types. Therefore, this study demonstrates that UAS equipped with basic imaging technology can be of use to a variety of land-use research areas and look set to become an invaluable remote sensing tool, which will improve further with the addition of calibrated multi-spectral sensor payloads, high precision global navigation satellite systems and relaxation in regulations governing their use.
Supervisor: Rees, Bob ; Hamilton, Alistair ; Nichol, Caroline Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: drones ; photogrammetry techniques ; orthomosaics ; monitoring ; mapping invasive non-native species ; greenhouse gas emissions ; remote sensing