Single Flight Field Coverage

How large of a field area can you cover in a single flight?

The question of how much ground can you cover in a single flight is one that often arises.  The question is a legitimate one, as clients have specific goals in mind in setting the amount of ground they need to cover.  

The short answer is ‘it depends’.  When I get this question, my first response is what do you want to measure? Are you counting plants or conducting a quick scouting of your field?

Camera Selection

Ultimately the answer to these questions will then lead to making a decision on camera selection (e.g. RGB, NIR, and Red edge) and what is the best altitude to fly at to achieve the right ground resolution. If you need to identify objects or count trees/plants, flying lower with closer flight lines (lateral) will result in less coverage but improve accuracy.  On the other hand if you are collecting NIR imagery that does not require as much ground detail, flying at 400 ft. (SFOC limit) will provide greater coverage and good resolution for creating your NDVI and other vegetation index maps.

Flying In The Wind

Another important variable that you have less control over that can affect coverage area is wind conditions. The eBee has a flight time of up to 45 minutes, which allows it to cover an area of up to 250-300 acres (10-12 sq. km), at 400 ft. (122 m). Wind speed and the overall wind resistance during the flight (e.g. flight direction) will have some impact on this flight time.  You can adjust to these conditions and help assure good data collection by flying on an angle too or perpendicular to wind direction. This will result in more constant flying speed and consistency in distance traveled between photos, resulting in improved data quality.

You can evaluate the effect of wind yourself with eMotion software. There you can ensure your mission’s success, by running a virtual flight that simulates wind strength and direction.

Check back in next month’s newsletter when we will discuss “How much overlap is ideal”.