Remote Sensing Technology to Map Flowering Plants

Remote Sensing Technology to Map Flowering Plants

flower mappingResearchers from Finland, Kenya, South Africa and Sudan have created a flowering map for a semi-arid Savannah site in Africa using a new remote sensing technology.

The remote sensing technology combines two mapping techniques — digital imaging and spectroscopy — that increase the ability to detect individually separate and distinct materials of interest for gathering key information towards identifying and classifying them.

According to the study published in the Remote Sensing of Environment journal, researchers deployed a air-borne sensor on an aircraft, allows to cover much larger areas more effectively and systematically than ground surveys.

For a study site in Kenya, airborne AISA/Eagle hyperspectral data with 60 cm pixel resolution (400 to 990 nm spectral ranges) was captured in January 2014, at the beginning of the prime flowering period, and during the prime flowering period in February 2013. Aerial digital imagery with 10 cm pixel size and Smartphone captures in the field were used for reference data collection. The flowering species were grouped into functional flowering plant groups such as brown leaves, crops, white forbs, white green and yellow green.

Linear spectral unmixing and Change Vector Analysis (CVA) were used on the bi-temporal AISA/Eagle data to produce a hard cover map showing the spatial distribution, abundance and short-term flowering cycle of melliferous plants.

The “White forbs” flowering plant group was most accurately mapped in both AISA/Eagle acquisition dates. Based on Duncan’s inter-class similarity test, the “White forbs” group was also most distinct from other flowering plant groups.

Floral cycle maps can help decision makers and bee keepers to understand how bee colonies interact with the floral environment and what to expect from an apiary in terms of honey flow.

“The map could benefit agricultural extension officers, decision makers and beekeepers,” says Tobias Landmann, a co-author of the study and head of Geo-Information Unit of the Kenya-headquartered International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology.

“Many beekeepers in rural Africa are dependent on products from bee keeping such as propolis, honey and wax [for] livelihoods strategy,” says Landmann. “For instance, in Kenya up to 25 per cent of farmers generate extra income from selling bee keeping products.”

The project took one and a half years to complete as part of a 13 million euro (about US$14.7 million) project on bee health funded by the European Union.

  • Sci Dev Net

Categories: Remote Sensing

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