Aerial Imagery: What Type is Right for You?

Aerial Imagery: What Type is Right for You?

On August 2, 2018 Vineyard Team and the Lodi Winegrape Commission collaborated on an education event where they invited vendors with different aerial imagery technologies for show-and-tell.

The impetus of the meeting was grower demand for information so that they could make informed decisions about remote sensing products and services. 

Aerial imagery has the potential to help farmers more efficiently manage their vineyards, especially those managing hundreds of acres. However, it’s tough to know where to start and which vendor to partner with. There is no thorough third-party review of what is available. So, the Lodi Winegrape Commission and Vineyard Team held a joint meeting to review the types of aerial imagery technology available (satellite, fixed wing, & UAV) and to learn what various companies can offer the grower.

Information presented included: a step by step review of how several aerial imagery systems work (timing, cost, software, interpretation of data, turnaround time, data format), what information the imaging system can provide and how that can be used, along with the pros and cons from a grower perspective.

Key Points


  • Of the 3 platforms (satellite, fixed wing, & UAV), satellite images have the lowest resolution, but still plenty fine grained for most application.
  • Different sensors (cameras) can capture different bands of electromagnetic radiation including the spectrum of visible light, infrared, near-infrared, and thermal images.
  • The more bands captured, the more types of analysis can be performed.
  • The Normalized Difference Vegetative Index (NDVI) is the most common way of quantifying vine vigor using an equation comparing the Red and Near-Infrared bands.
  • It is necessary to be careful when making comparisons between two NDVI images as the time of day affects the readings. 
  • Greg Gonzalez, Director of Vineyard Operations at Scheid Vineyards, has experience with all the different types of systems and almost all of the vendors. He felt they were all good and had their own strengths.
  • When shopping for aerial imaging services it is important that the grower knows
    • What kind of information they want.
    • Why they want that information.
    • How they plan to use it.
    • How often they need new information.
    • With so many different types of imaging available and different platforms for capturing information, it is easy to be overwhelmed.


Comparison of Vendors (August 2018)

Meeting Agenda and Hand-out

Remote Sensing Basics

Viticultural Mapping by UAVs, Part 1

Viticultural Mapping by UAVs, Part 2

Estimating Canopy Size with NDVI- Efficient Vineyard Webinar

Canpoy Archetecture and NDVI data collection- Efficient Vineyard Webinar