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A Guide to the Practical Use of Aerial Color-infrared Photography in Agriculture


Don't Expect Too Much!

A word of caution should be given to the novice interpreter and a reminder given to the experienced analyst of color-infrared photography. When one studies a photograph and identifies a unique feature, as indicated by certain color tones or patterns, the specific reason for that anomaly cannot always be discovered solely from the photography. The aerial photo is only a tool to aid in locating potential agricultural problems. It is only by field-checks and detailed analysis of those sites that have been identified on the color-infrared photograph that one can ultimately determine the actual nature of the anomaly. Thus, color-infrared photography alone does not provide answers to problems, but it reduces the time spent looking for the extent of the problem and increases the amount of time that can be spent seeking solutions.

At the same time, color-infrared photography has considerable potential as tool for agricultural management. Continued in-field research under controlled conditions no doubt will increase our understanding of CIR imagery and increase our understanding of CIR imagery and increase its use in Nebraska.

Recently, one of the newest technological developments involving remote sensing of reflected infrared energy has been the use of airborne video imaging. This technique is based on the use of a video-camera system instead of the conventional framing camera for acquiring aerial imagery. With airborne video imaging, color-infrared images can be produced in real time, which makes flight-line navigation relatively easy, thereby reducing image-acquisition error. Another advantage is the electronic format of the data, which is compatible with computers. At the same time, however, some disadvantages exist with this kind of imaging, including the fact that spatial ground) resolution is not quite as good as aerial photography. Nevertheless, airborne video imaging has become very popular.