Unmanned aerial vehicle based tree canopy characteristics measurement for precision spray applications

Md Sultan Mahmud, Long He, Paul Heinemann, Daeun Choi, Heping Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The critical components for applying the correct amount of agrochemicals are fruit tree characteristics such as canopy height, canopy volume, and canopy coverage. An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based tree canopy characteristics measurement system was developed using image processing approaches. The UAV captured images using a high-resolution red-green-blue (RGB) camera. A digital surface model (DSM) and a digital terrain model (DTM) were generated from the captured images. A tree canopy height map was generated from the subtraction of DSM and DTM. A total of 24 apple trees were randomly targeted to measure the canopy characteristics. Region of interest (ROI) was generated across the boundary of each targeted tree. The height of all pixels within each ROI was computed separately. The pixel with maximum height was considered as the height of the respective tree. For computing canopy volume, the sum of all pixel heights from individual ROI was multiplied by the square of ground sample distance (GSD) of 5.69 mm·pixel−1. A segmentation method was employed to calculate the canopy coverage of the individual trees. The segmented canopy pixel area was divided by the total pixel area within the ROI. The results showed an average relative error of 0.2 m(6.64%) while comparing automatically measured tree height with ground measurements. For tree canopy volume, a mean absolute error of 0.25 m3 and a root mean square error of 0.33 m3 were achieved. The study estimated the possible agrochemical requirement for spraying the fruit trees, ranging from 0.1 to 0.32 l based on tree canopy volumes. The overall investigations suggest that the UAV-based tree canopy characteristics measurements could be a potential tool to calculate the pesticide requirement for precision spraying applications in tree fruit orchards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100153
JournalSmart Agricultural Technology
StatePublished - Aug 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Artificial Intelligence


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