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Drone-based Pumpkin counting

Northern Europe's largest pumpkin farmer at Gyldensteen Gods in Northern Funen, contacted SDU UAS Center in spring 2017 to ask for help counting their pumpkins on the fields.

Landowner, Frants Bernstorff-Gyldensteen, grows pumpkins on 80 hectares of land, giving approximately 400,000 pumpkins.

Problem is that every year 5-10% go to waste because it is impossible to count the exact number of pumpkins before harvest time. Therefore, when signing contracts with the wholesalers, Frants Bernstorff-Gyldensteen must commit to a low number of pumpkins to be sure he is able to deliver.

A method to count pumpkins early in the season, will reduce unnecessary use of pesticides and waste, and make the fields more profitable.

Project details

Henrik Skov Midtiby from SDU UAS Center is an expert in computer vision and started developing a software algorithm that can count pumpkins by means of image analysis. By flying a drone over the fields, he takes a lot of small images, which are put together into a big image. The program he developed looks for orange spots on the image. If the circumference is more than 47 pixels, equivalent to 110 cm, it is assumed that there are two pumpkins. It only takes the computer 10 minutes to count 100,000 pumpkins.

 

Future perspective

Now, challenge is to further develop the method in order to count pumpkins as early in the season as possible and to make the software easily accessible to the farmer.

The goal is to refine the computer program, so it can be used to count other crops such as cabbage or Christmas trees.

Nikolaj From Bächler, who studies the Master Specialization in Drone Technology, is doing his master thesis on the project, gradating summer 2018.

Funding

Energi Fyns Udviklingsfond  supports the project by DKK 140,000 and it runs until the end of 2018.

Media

19 October, 2017, TV2 National News

 

Drones keep track of the pumpkins,  18 October, 2017, www.sdu.dk (in Danish)

Drones spot the best pumpkins, 18 October, 2017, www.fyens.dk (in Danish)

Contact information

Henrik Skov Midtiby, hemi@mmmi.sdu.dk

 

Last Updated 13.08.2021