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Journal of Applied Remote Sensing

Unmanned aerial vehicle-based remote sensing for rangeland assessment, monitoring, and management
Author(s): Albert Rango; Andrea Laliberte; Jeffrey E. Herrick; Craig Winters; Kris Havstad; Caiti Steele; Dawn Browning
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Paper Abstract

Rangeland comprises as much as 70% of the Earth's land surface area. Much of this vast space is in very remote areas that are expensive and often impossible to access on the ground. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have great potential for rangeland management. UAVs have several advantages over satellites and piloted aircraft: they can be deployed quickly and repeatedly; they are less costly and safer than piloted aircraft; they are flexible in terms of flying height and timing of missions; and they can obtain imagery at sub-decimeter resolution. This hyperspatial imagery allows for quantification of plant cover, composition, and structure at multiple spatial scales. Our experiments have shown that this capability, from an off-the-shelf mini-UAV, is directly applicable to operational agency needs for measuring and monitoring. For use by operational agencies to carry out their mandated responsibilities, various requirements must be met: an affordable and reliable platform; a capability for autonomous, low altitude flights; takeoff and landing in small areas surrounded by rugged terrain; and an easily applied data analysis methodology. A number of image processing and orthorectification challenges have been or are currently being addressed, but the potential to depict the land surface commensurate with field data perspectives across broader spatial extents is unrivaled.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 August 2009
PDF: 15 pages
J. Appl. Remote Sens. 3(1) 033542 doi: 10.1117/1.3216822
Published in: Journal of Applied Remote Sensing Volume 3, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
Albert Rango, USDA Agricultural Research Service (United States)
Andrea Laliberte, New Mexico State Univ. (United States)
Jeffrey E. Herrick, USDA Agricultural Research Service (United States)
Craig Winters, New Mexico State Univ. (United States)
Kris Havstad, USDA Agricultural Research Service (United States)
Caiti Steele, USDA Agricultural Research Service (United States)
Dawn Browning, USDA Agricultural Research Service (United States)


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