Understanding Your Aerial Data: Canopy Cover

Robert Pershing Wadlow is recorded as the tallest person in history. At 8’11’’, Wadlow had a unique perspective of the world, towering above everyone else, but even Wadlow wouldn't be able to view an entire, mature corn field. Early in the season, farmers are eager to know what is going on in their fields but have historically been limited to sampled field observations. If farmers had a giant step ladder to get that aerial perspective, they would probably use that! However, drones and aerial data software tools, like DataMapper, have quickly emerged to change the game.

The newest addition to the Algorithm Marketplace, the Canopy Cover app, evaluates aerial field imagery and produces an actionable data report. If the report reveals a lower canopy cover on parts of the field, farmers can immediately investigate and search for potential causes.   Learn more on this revolutionary tool:

What is the Canopy Cover algorithm?

Canopy cover refers to the amount of soil surface that is covered with plots. Higher canopy cover means denser vegetation and less visible soil. The algorithm works by delineating the vegetation from the image using a vegetation index. Users can employ the canopy cover algorithm to determine how much of an area of interest is already covered with vegetation. Instead of rough estimates, this algorithm provides a quick quantitative measure, which can be used to then track the progression of the field across several days.

Who uses the algorithm?

The Canopy Cover algorithm is specifically designed for users involved in the agriculture industry. Farmers are hungry for data, and the canopy cover algorithm provides an alternative way to measure the amount of vegetation that they have. This is typically used in the earlier stages of the season, right around summer, when it is most crucial to gauge the growth of crops. While primarily used for row crops, the algorithm can be extended to other applications, such as forestry for the measurement of the amount of tree cover.

What is interesting about the algorithm?

Broadly, the canopy cover algorithm is a way to quantify the amount of vegetation. The ultimate goal is to incorporate it in a robust agricultural data stack for, soil, moisture and other measurements. This complicated data will provide the farmer with a multifaceted perspective of their field. We are excited to pursue this through continued development of in-house algorithms as well as strategic relationships with leading universities.

Want to learn more?

To use Canopy Cover on your aerial survey or to get more information about the Algorithm Marketplace, visit https://www.datamapper.com/algorithms.

We also work closely with GIS experts, university researchers and enterprise clients to build and commercialize custom algorithms to keep the marketplace growing. Email us at info@datamapper.com to partner or share your ideas.