Omnia Plant Vision is an exciting new way of collecting and using crop biomass data for improved crop management that can be used in conjunction with Omnia Precision.

Precision farming is being practised on many farms; we know that being able to measure exactly what is happening in a field at a particular time, combined with agronomist support, can help to formulate more accurate and appropriate input decisions.

One particular methodology that has been practised for some time is measuring the green area index of a field, which allows growers to take real time measurements of the canopy during the crop’s life.

Known as remote sensing, this measurement relies on the reflection of light from the leaf surface and specialist machinery has been developed around this concept that measures crop
reflectance at different levels.

However, to date this capability for real-time remote sensing has often been compromised due to unreliable satellite imaging, and the high cost of the specialist sensor equipment.

“Real time measurements of crop biomass are notoriously unreliable as there are so many factors that can affect the readings, crop layers, growth stage, the angle of the sun for example all have an effect, so you could be paying an awful lot of money for technology that is not really working,” says Oliver Wood, Hutchinsons Precision Technology Manager.

Plant Vision
Believing that there was a more cost-effective and reliable way to gather crop biomass data that allowed for a more integrated crop management approach, was the driver behind the development of Hutchinsons Omnia Plant Vision sensor system.

Omnia Plant Vision is based on NDVI reflectance sensors that can be mounted to any machine, but are commonly mounted to a sprayer. A typical installation would be 4 or 6 sensors mounted to the sprayer boom and a simple controller in the cab. Plant Vision is incredibly accurate as it can collect measurements each time the sprayer passes through the field during the season- there is no need for expensive machinery or extra passes through the field- and it allows the farmer to decide when they want to collect the data.

“Data collected through Plant Vision correlates strongly to the Leaf Area Index and Green Area Index and is the same as NDVI data collected from other sensor systems or satellites”, explains Mr Wood.

“This data can then be run to create shapes that represent differences in green area index across a field, from which a biomass maps can be developed and used in the Omnia Precision Agronomy system.”

“If data has already been collected through another system that can also be inputted, and used within Omnia.”

“However, the true value of Plant Vision is the ability to use the biomass information in conjunction with other field characteristics to explain or verify yield potential through Omnia.”

Using the data in this way can help to answer the question of whether or not to increase inputs on a poor or high performing area of a field. “It’s not about aiming for an even crop, it’s about managing the agronomy of particular areas of the field that require a more prescriptive approach to push for optimum yield potential.”

“For example, at the beginning of the season, regular biomass measurements will allow the user to look at how the crop has tillered and where this is poor it may need additional early nitrogen. Later in the season the better performing areas of the crop may need pushing and this justifies more nitrogen.”