Surveying and Identifying Wildflowers with Drones

Flowermapping Drohne

Wildflowers on meadows and pastures are important as a year-round source of food for pollinating insects.

The service which pollinating insects provide free of charge every year in crops is worth EUR 150 billion. Preserving the populations of these beneficial organisms is therefore not only important from a nature-protection perspective. The best protection is offered by varied, ideally continuous food resources during the entire flight period of the pollinators. Previously, wildflowers had to be counted and identified by hand to be certain that species diversity was sufficiently high. Now, drones with artificial intelligence (AI) could soon be used to accomplish this task. Using a camera, the drones film the areas to be surveyed. A sophisticated AI software tool then allows them to identify the species – or in the case of very similar species, the group of species or genus – as well as the number of wildflowers present. The system already works surprisingly well. Mistakes only occur in the case of plants that are very small, do not stand out clearly enough from their surroundings, or are not yet familiar enough to the software. Problems also arise if a plant is at a stage that differs too much from the training situation. Further research is needed for things to work properly in such cases as well.

The scientific article Flower Mapping in Grasslands with Drones and Deep Learning highlights what Agroscope has already achieved in this sphere.



Further Informations

Bild_1_Wildbiene fliegt Kirschblüte an

Wild Bees and Pollination

Honey bees, wild bees and other insect pollinators play a crucial role in agricultural ecosystems. Pollinators help to improve the yields of around 75% of the world’s most important agricultural crops.

Last modification 13.04.2022

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