Practical Applications of a Multisensor UAV Platform Based on Multispectral, Thermal and RGB High Resolution Images in Precision Viticulture
High spatial ground resolution and highly flexible and timely control due to reduced planning time are the strengths of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms for remote sensing applications. These characteristics make them ideal especially in the medium–small agricultural systems typical of many Italian viticulture areas of excellence. UAV can be equipped with a wide range of sensors useful for several applications. Numerous assessments have been made using several imaging sensors with different flight times. This paper describes the implementation of a multisensor UAV system capable of flying with three sensors simultaneously to perform different monitoring options. The intra-vineyard variability was assessed in terms of characterization of the state of vines vigor using a multispectral camera, leaf temperature with a thermal camera and an innovative approach of missing plants analysis with a high spatial resolution RGB camera. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values detected in different vigor blocks were compared with shoot weights, obtaining a good regression (R2 = 0.69). The crop water stress index (CWSI) map, produced after canopy pure pixel filtering, highlighted the homogeneous water stress areas. The performance index developed from RGB images shows that the method identified 80% of total missing plants. The applicability of a UAV platform to use RGB, multispectral and thermal sensors was tested for specific purposes in precision viticulture and was demonstrated to be a valuable tool for fast multipurpose monitoring in a vineyard.