Seen & Heard: Invasive species vs. UAVs and protecting farms with GIS

September 1, 2023  - By

“Seen & Heard” is a monthly feature of GPS World magazine, traveling the world to capture interesting and unusual news stories involving the GNSS/PNT industry.

I Wonder What’s Under There?

Image: Lokibaho/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Image: Lokibaho/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Connecticut have conducted one of the largest understory species mapping projects using satellite data and have published the results of the study in the Remote Sensing of Environment journal. In this study, the researchers proposed an automated dense Sentinel-2 time series-based approach for understory plant communities and created maps of four understory classes that include native shrubs of greenbrier and mountain laurel, invasive shrubs of barberry, and the assemblage of mixed invasives at 10 m resolution in Connecticut’s deciduous forests. The researchers developed a strategy that distinguished plant species with an accuracy of 93% and determined that 53% of Connecticut’s understory is now comprised of invasive plant species such as barberry, bittersweet, winged euonymus (burning bush), and multi-flora rose.

Invasive Species VS. UAVs

Image: Donn Bartram

Image: Donn Bartram

Researchers at West Virginia University are using UAVs to develop tools to detect, map, treat and monitor invasive plant species with a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Multiflora rose is an invasive shrub that threatens native plants in more than 40 states, including West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This project aims to equip UAVs with sensors to collect environmental data in a designated area of southwestern Pennsylvania over multiple seasons. The research team will use that data, combined with machine learning technology, to develop software that can identify multiflora rose and, eventually, other invasive species.

Protecting Farms with GIS

For farmers, every centimeter counts. ComNav’s AG360 Pro autosteering system controls pass-to-pass accuracy within 2.5 cm. (Photo: Daniel Balakov/E+/Getty Images)

Image: Daniel Balakov/E+/Getty Images

American Farmland Trust (AFT) is partnering with government agencies and advocacy groups in South Carolina to deploy GIS mapping tools to predict areas at the highest risk of development in the state. Palmetto 2040: Visioning Alternative Futures, Launching Solutions is a geospatial modeling and policy analysis tool designed to identify and model future outcomes. This mapping tool will project what land in South Carolina is at highest risk of development by 2040. The analysis will consider both rapid population growth and climate change impact on settlement patterns and agriculture, according to AFT.

USV Take Hurricanes

Image: SailDrone

Image: SailDrone

Saildrone is deploying 12 uncrewed surface vehicles (USV) into the tropical Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico this summer, supporting research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to advance hurricane forecasting. Ten USVs will be deployed from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Charleston, South Carolina; to operate in areas with a high probability of intercepting a storm, as indicated by historical data. Two vehicles will remain on land, ready for quick deployment in the event of an approaching hurricane. NOAA will use the data collected by the USVs to improve hurricane forecast models.

About the Author: Maddie Saines

Maddie was a managing editor at GPS World.