Multispectral imaging camera sensors on agricultural drones allow the farmer to manage crops, soil, fertilizing and irrigation more effectively. Both the MicaSense RedEdge and Parrot Sequioa are incredible pieces of kit – but what are the differences between them? In this blog we simplify both, allowing you to make the right decision.
We have recently started sourcing drone solutions for the agriculture sector. Whether for aerial photography, agricultural mapping, or drone-based inspections, we will source the right drone solution for your workflows.
There are huge benefits both to the farmer and to the wider environment by minimizing the use of sprays, fertilizers, wastage of water and at the same time increasing the yield from crops.
Multispectral camera remote sensing imaging technology use Green, Red, Red-Edge and Near Infrared wavebands to capture both visible and invisible images of crops and vegetation.
If you are in the market for a multispectral camera that can revolutionise your drone use, two models you might well have come across are the Micasense RedEdge and the Parrot Sequoia. While a large factor in your final decision might come down to the budget you have at your disposal, here we run through the main features of each, so you know exactly what you are getting for your money.
What’s under the bonnet?
The RedEdge, as you might expect from being in the higher price bracket, is the more powerful camera, capturing five discrete spectral bands at the same time. This allows customised applications to use the tailored indices created. The Sequoia relies on four narrowband filters which are optimised for analysing crop health, as well as a 16 MP RGB imager for simple digital scouting.
Is size everything?
In terms of size and weight, the Sequoia is certainly lighter on its feet, tipping the scales at 107g and being roughly half the size of the RedEdge, but its rival packs a massive punch, so for those who value functionality and capabilities over appearance, wait until you hear what the RedEdge can offer.
What gives the RedEdge, the edge?
Easily mounted on to drones, the RedEdge provides you with scientific grade imagery and you will be able to fly at fast speeds, as well as at low attitudes, safe in the knowledge that performance is not significantly affected. Distortion is also not a worry, as a global shutter design means images are captured adeptly, and you can make use of standard features such as geo-tagging and time stamping, as well as a more advanced self-triggering function and external GPS connections. This makes your collection of geo-tagged data smooth, without needing to connect to the host vehicle.
Flexibility is another key point to consider, and RedEdge’s compatibility with a number of UAV platforms means serial, ethernet and PWM/GPIO trigger are all possibilities.
Multispectral camera of the future?
RedEdge-MX is one of the most flexible solutions on the market, with optimised GSD (resolution), the new DLS 2 light sensor, a global shutter for distortion-free images, the ability to generate plant health indexes and RGB (color) images from one flight, and the freedom of platform-agnostic data. All in a compact size and low weight that allow it to be used with a wide variety of unmanned aircraft systems.
Jesus Aguirre Gutierrez from Oxford University, has been using the MicaSense RedEdge to monitor how tropical forests are changing and responding given climate change. Jesus has been using drones and multispectral cameras, as well as LiDAR remote sensing to track the structure of the trees.
Jesus commented: “The MicaSense integration with the DJI Inspire 2 is so easy. The data analysis after capturing the data is really straightforward too, the whole process is very simple. We have mainly been using Pix4D to process the data after collection, which turns our images into highly precise 2D and 3D models.”
One of the most innovative drones on the market to date and perfect for any farm is the DJI Inspire 2. This drone comes with excellent stabilisation technology and a 4k camera. The Inspire 2 will give you perfectly clear video and images of your visual inspection around the farm.
The value of the Sequoia
In reply, the Sequoia offers so much for its size and price, that even having read the features above, you might be tempted to side with it. Its sunshine sensor, GPS and SD card slot mean it could be a favourite for farmers who wish to predict crop yields and hone in on areas that need pesticide or water. This is done by identification of wavelengths varying from green to infrared, differentiating healthy plants from those that are not nourished. The ability to add precision to agricultural practices with this calibrated tool, coupled with its low price point compared to the RedEdge and others on the market, make it a great all-rounder for a very reasonable cost.
For smaller drones
If you are operating a drone in the lower size bracket, with a small fixed-wing platform, then the compact nature of the Sequoia might make perfect sense. Suitable platforms for running the Sequoia include the DJI Phantom 4 and 3DR Solo.
What do they have in common?
Aside from their primary use, both products are suited to use with data analytics and processing platforms, meaning you will have tools at your disposal to dissect the data after operation.
The question of whether you plump for a RedEdge or a Sequoia is likely to come down to the nature of your drone use, as well as the price bracket you have in mind for the investment. Serious users keen to have a multispectral camera which appears to be more ‘future-proofed’ than alternatives and can provide a great degree of flexibility, might be best off with the RedEdge, while customers going for affordability and a device that can meet their basic agricultural analysis needs can purchase the Sequoia and get started straight away. In one way, the choice is instructive – many of those who own smaller drones could be the type of users for whom the Sequoia is adequate for the price they are looking to pay.
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