WHOLE TREE AND SITE DRONE ASSESSMENTS
Tree surveying from all angles- Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) surveys.
UAS or ‘drones’ as they are better known, are fast becoming an accessible method of high-level aerial photography and video capturing for a range of industries and Arboriculture is no exception.
Our surveys are currently conducted as a ‘ground-based visual inspection’, a proven, tried, and tested technique for evaluating the health and risk a tree offers to its growing environment. However, going airborne with a UAS may offer an alternative survey that uses some of the most up to date technology in assessing tree health.
Our UAS pilots have undergone training and certification to be able to fly in the ‘specific’ category by completing the A2CoC and the GVC (General visual line of sight certificate); we also insist that our pilots gain as much ‘airtime’ in their spare time as possible to keep their skills accurate. We also hold a current Civil Aviation Authority-approved operations manual to fly commercially.
Our ‘ground team’ will complete a desktop study before committing to a UAS survey to ensure that the airspace is safe to fly in and that there are no restrictions in place.
The ‘swiss army knife of the sky’
One of the simple benefits of surveying using a UAS is that the upper canopy can be inspected in great detail from all angles owing to the 4k cameras fitted; this can give a much greater edge when assessing diseases like Ash Dieback in mid-summer when the upper canopy is obscured from ground level or assessing tree groups/woodlands.
Another benefit is the range of cameras that we use to evaluate the trees; aside from the 4k high-resolution cameras, we can switch to thermal imagery which is used to detect fungal activity in the canopy or stem, which is often an indicator of disease or decay. Our multispectral camera is used to detect subtle variations in plant health before visible symptoms appear. For instance, the camera could spot a small reduction in a tree’s chlorophyll content before the leaves start to turn yellow.
In conclusion, the use of UAS in delivering accuracy and added value to the project can be of a huge benefit and will continue to do so as technology advances.
Getting up close and personal with the tree helps provide better information and allows us to make better decisions. Although binoculars, cameras and drones all provide good images, sometimes we are looking for clues such as insect eggs, changes in the bark or early signs of adaption by the tree, that can only be seen when close up.
Assessment of the canopy is a good way to help identify the health or vitality of a tree, and the presence of pests and diseases particularly when in leaf. This can be as simple as a close visual assessment using a hand lens or microscope or can require samples being sent to one of our partner laboratories for detailed analysis.
Tree Vitality & Nutrients
Sometimes a simple test can provide a real insight into the health and vitality of the tree and help us identify wider issues such as underlying health problems, issues with the soil or wider site problems and help inform management decisions.
The use of a broad spectrum leaf test gives the nutrient levels for all twelve plant nutrients and ensures deficiency can be spotted, compared to benchmark levels and gives recommendations to correct the deficiency. The nutrients included in this analysis normally are: N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn.
Alternatively, we can use Chlorophyll Fluorescence, this test measures the light reflected off and absorbed by the leaf to provide information on the tree’s ability to perform normal photochemistry or, to put it another way, how well can the tree make food. This can also provide a measure of health and identify impacts from a range of issues including stresses caused by environmental conditions. It can also be used as a means of detecting physiological damage caused by stress factors such as site changes or excessive drought or flooding.
Trees are just a hotel with a huge buffet, when you are an insect or animal looking for food or shelter, they are so attractive to a range of pests; such biodiversity across a range of habitats is one of the main reasons for retaining particularly older trees.
However, certain animals can be pests and can offer a serious risk to the tree, and its well-being and some even pose a direct risk to the health of the tree and in turn us. So early identification and management problems is the best way to help keep your trees safe and healthy.
Please feel free to contact us if you see anything your not sure of or have any questions or concerns about the health of your trees.
Just like us, trees can be affected by a range of diseases. Some can just be annoying and may result in few blotches on a few leaves, but some can rapidly overtake a tree and either quickly overrun the tree’s defences or result in a serious reduction in strength of the tree.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this.