Virtual Orchard (VO) is a technology to describe canopy geometry for individual trees in an orchard using 3D reconstruction of tree canopies. The 3D model in VO is created by photogrammetry technique using a series of aerial images of orchard acquired from different angles and heights. Orchard topography, individual canopy cover, volume, height, size, spacing etc. can be estimated by VO technology. This information can be further analyzed and interpreted by prediction models to generate useful and timely knowledge such as water/nutrient requirement, and yield forecast that will help grower to conduct a better orchard management, improve yield, decrease waste, and maintain the quality of the environment.
Some examples of Virtual Orchard applications are:
- Generating prescription maps for precision agriculture
- Orchard monitoring/management
- Yield forecasting
- Blossom mapping
- Robotic pruning/thinning
- Berries detecting and counting
- Variable pesticide application
- Robotic harvesting
- Precision irrigation
- Nutrient management
- Measurement of shared area under the canopy for et and crop coefficient estimation
Virtual Orchard can also be developed in non-visible bands such as near infrared (NIR) and red edge. NIR imagery indicates plant vigor, lower NIR value usually means plant is under stress. NIR can also be used for normalizing chlorophyll-sensitive bands such as Red and creating vegetation indices such as NDVI. Red-edge is another non-visible band that includes important information about plant stress, chlorophyll, and nitrogen content. Lower values in red-edge band usually indicated nitrogen stress.
These are only a few applications of virtual Orchard. More research is required to reveal further capabilities of virtual orchard in precise Orchard monitoring and management.