Early detection of turf health issues

Golf courses are seen as microcosms of nature and aesthetics, but they also represent a significant expenditure for the clubs that run them. It is therefore essential that clubs maintain their golf courses to ensure that costs and resources do not spiral out of control. One way in which this can be achieved through drones is done by taking multispectral images of golf courses.

Imagine that as a golf course greenkeeper your grass is lush and you can see the roots under the ground in clear detail. Supposedly the soil in the greens and fairways has plenty of nutrients, deep color, and there are no weeds or pests; everything looks perfect.

But what if an invasive species like bluegrass or crabgrass takes hold? Multispectral drone sensors make it possible to visualize early warning signs on issues such as fertility deficiencies caused by high salt content, nutrient deficiency (specifically nitrogen), insect infestation and drought stress; all before they affect playability or attractiveness of your facility.


Plant Health and Chlorophyl

Multispectral drones use a variety of different sensors to measure specific portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. These drones can take images from any part of the global spectrum, including infrared, red , green and blue. 

This allows drones to effectively map out areas in incredible detail and are an invaluable tool for Golf Courses looking to improve plant health. Their ability to measure light and chlorophyll content provides detailed reports that can be used to make informed decisions about irrigation, fertilization, and other practices.

What chlorophyll does is that it strongly absorbs visible light in the blue and red wavelengths into the cellular structure of leaves, so if there is strong photosynthesis activity within the plant this can be used as an indicator of healthy vegetation. 


The importance of NDVI maps

NDVI maps are created from the reflectance difference between the visible red light wavelength and the non-visible near-infrared wavelength. An example of this can be seen in the image above.


Types of cameras

There are two main types of multispectral cameras that can be used on drones: 





Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

NDVI cameras are more expensive than RGB cameras, but they offer better plant health information. They measure the amount of light reflected by plants in the near-infrared spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye. This allows them to estimate the chlorophyll content of plants, which is a key indicator of plant health.

RGB cameras are less expensive than NDVI cameras, but they don’t provide as much information about plant health. They measure the amount of light reflected by plants in the visible spectrum.

This allows them to estimate the color of plants, but not their chlorophyll content.

When analyzing golf courts to get a detailed reading of plant health, an NDVI camera can generate more insightful information than a RGB camera, that only shows the colour of plants, which can be seen in the image above: RGB vs NDVI-D.