Natural Resources

UAV Benefits

  • Establish a conservation plan
  • Identify problem areas in a particular ecosystem
  • Locate and quantify the damage from invasive species
  • Identify disease in canopy coverage
  • Geotag trees for timber removal or to save neighboring trees
  • Faster, safe determination of canopy structure than with human climbers
  • Assess existing conservation areas for biodiversity
  • Monitor and modify soil conservation practices with reduced environmental impact
  • Check surface water for potential contaminants

UAV Challenges

Forests: Flying a UAV near timber stands is inherently risky. Signal strength also weakens within a forested area.

  • Tip: Fly above the canopy when possible and choose low-density areas.

Water: Most UAVs are not waterproof and a crash could destroy the aircraft.

  • Tip: Fly around water – not over it – when possible.

Natural Resources Examples

Image of a tree plantation the VARI algorithm
Detecting tree stress after invasive plant herbicide application

A demonstration trial of methods to control the invasive winged burning bush was conducted in the...

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Image a drone flying over a field with snow
Native seeding with a drone

This project was completed at Ivy Tech in Lafayette, Indiana and in collaboration with Ivy Tech...

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Aerial RBG image of a shallow section of Bass Lake
Weed survey in Bass Lake

Bass Lake is a 1,345-acre lake in Starke County, Indiana and has problems with invasive Eurasian...

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Image of a river and a forest
State Parks Virtual Field Trip program

This project was initiated to create a State Parks Virtual Field Trip program, geared for use in...

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Image of image of the wetland from above
Invasive weed: common reed

Common reed (Phragmites australis) is an Indiana native, but invasive, weed. It’s...

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Image aerial of wooded areas with invasive plant species
Invasive species: honeysuckle

UAV use in wooded areas can identify invasive plant species for removal along as well as track...

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Image of a Heavy invasive areas are outlined in blue
Supporting data for NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Invasive species control flights provided wood rating for EQIP application in partnership Ripley...

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Image of a forest with a fatal disease in red and black oak trees
Oak Wilt

UAVs were used to locate known trees at Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center (SEPAC) affected by...

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Image dead trees cause by the Emerald Ash Borer
Tree loss from invasive species

The Emerald Ash Borer killed all dead trees in this orthomosaic image. This woodlot is...

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RGB images allow identification of specific tree species upon color and texture
Comprehensive forest report

To explore UAV uses in forestry applications, several forests were flown over the course of 2019....

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