Application of UASs to augment ground surveys in cranberry agriculture development: a proof of concept for the integration of UAS into the site identification and monitoring of cranberry farms in Newfoundland
Danahy, John A.
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Assessing the potential for developing wetland environments into cranberry agricultural lands is time consuming and expensive. The addition of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to augment current ground survey techniques has the potential to increase assessment accuracy and cranberry production while reducing costs. Newfoundland’s extensive wetlands offer significant opportunities for the development of cranberry agricultural lands. Due to a large international demand for raw cranberries, there is great potential economic benefit in the rapid development of cranberry farms. This study focused on using UASs to assess wetland areas in Newfoundland by applying suitability criteria developed by the Newfoundland Government. This was done through the use of GIS, image classification, and photogrammetry to assess these criteria over three site locations. The viability of expanding UAS data collection over larger areas to develop a province-wide model was explored through an assessment of current fixed wing UAS technology. Given the novelty of this area of study, this research aimed to serve as a proof of concept where the validity of results was measured against real world applicability, not statistical analysis. The results showed that because UASs cannot assess all of the required wetland criteria, they are not a viable replacement for current ground surveys, but do have the potential to augment current techniques. UASs make it possible to survey larger areas, as well as reduce time and cost. The assessment of current fixed wing UAS technology concluded that given the continuously improving technology and further testing, there is the potential for these systems to collect comparable data over a larger area. Overall, the study concluded that through the strategic integration of the UAS techniques developed in this study with existing ground survey methods, Newfoundland has the potential to increase cranberry agricultural development and capitalize on the global demand for this crop.