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An Integrated Autonomous UAV and WSN-based System for Crop Water Management and Crop Condition Monitoring

Primary Information


Water Resources & River Systems

Project No.


Sanction and Project Initiation

Sanction No: F. No.: 3-18/2015-TS-TS.I

Sanction Date: 29/11/2016

Project Initiation date: 08/02/2017

Project Duration: 36

Partner Ministry/Agency/Industry

Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare


Role of partner: To be decided.


Support from partner:

Principal Investigator

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C. Chatterjee
IIT Kharagpur

Host Institute


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N. S. Raghuwanshi
Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

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S. Misra
IIT Kharagpur

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A. Mishra
IIT Kharagpur

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D. R. Mailapalli
IIT Kharagpur

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R. Singh
IIT Kharagpur


Scope and Objectives

1. Development of an autonomous UAV aerial imagery platform.
2. Formulation and development of image-based analytics for crop (paddy, wheat and others) water stress detection and intelligence for placement of ground-sensor nodes.
3. Formulation and development of a centralized image-based analytics for crop damage assessment due to various natural causes (floods, drought, pestilence, hail, etc.).


1. Automated UAV imagery-based crop monitoring system.
2. Image-based crop water stress detection system.
3. UAV- Ground WSN based crop stress localization system
4. Irrigation scheduling system.
5. Crop damage assessment and analytics framework.


Scientific Output

The integration of automated UAV-based paddy/wheat/other crop monitoring with Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) for irrigation scheduling along with additional services such as fertilizer scheduling, disease detection and damage assessment has not been attempted in India, as of now. Currently irrigation scheduling is carried out mainly by farmers experience causing either under or over irrigation and resulting in revenue loss and environmental degradation. Further, spatial and temporal resolution of current satellite sensors is insufficient in real time crop management. In addition, crop damage assessment is carried out manually causing inordinate delay and biases in relief disbursement to farmers under stress conditions. The proposed solution will improve water and crop management as well as early disbursement of relief. The two pronged approach of detecting crop water stress for irrigation scheduling by ground based WSNs, and in cases of calamities, the re-allotment of the UAV system for gauging the extent of damage to crops for the purposes of insurance disbursement is the novelty of this proposal.


Results and outcome till date

1. Field experiments were conducted during rabi season of 2017-18 in Agricultural Research Farm, IIT Kharagpur for wheat crop with different nitrogen applications. Different equipment like SPAD meter (for measuring chlorophyll content) and Greenseeker (for measuring NDVI) were used at different growth stages. A RGB camera mounted on in-house developed drone was used to capture aerial images at different growth stages. Based on these experiments, preliminary relationships are developed between ground truth data (SPAD and NDVI) and spectral index (NGRDI) extracted from aerial images.
2. Field experiments were also conducted during kharif season of 2018 in Agricultural Research Farm, IIT Kharagpur for paddy crop with different nitrogen applications. The paddy crop was also infested with diseases due to non-application of pesticides. Different equipment like SPAD meter (for measuring chlorophyll content), Greenseeker (for measuring NDVI) and LAI meter (for measuring LAI) were used at different growth stages. A Multi-Spectral camera mounted on in-house developed drone was used to capture aerial images at different growth stages. Figures 1 and 2 show different indices extracted from multi-spectral image data. Fig. 1: Variation of GNDVI for paddy crop with different Nitrogen applications under irrigated and rainfed conditions. Fig. 2: Different indices for paddy crop infested with and without diseases for rainfed and irrigated conditions.


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Societal benefit and impact anticipated

The recently launched central schemes such as PM Sinchai Yojna and PM Fasal Bima Yojna necessitate and emphasize upon the use of mobile, satellite & other technologies in agriculture. The Sinchai Yojna aims at better conservation, management and allocation of water for irrigation, whereas, the Fasal Bima Yojna aims at providing insurance cover and financial support to farmers in the event of crop failure. These schemes rely heavily on technology for providing timely irrigation, crop health monitoring and assessment of extent of crop damage. The spatio-temporal as well as spectral resolution of the available satellite-based monitoring is not sufficient for precise information for small and medium landholders in India. Ironically, the marginal, small and medium agricultural landholders constitute the bulk of Indian farmers. Hence, we propose the use of centralized automated UAVs integrated with ground-based WSN, for paddy/wheat/other crop monitoring at a regional scale, which will add speed as well as precision for crop management. The UAV will work in autonomous mode for routine crop monitoring with manual over-ride facilities for on-demand monitoring of fields.

Next steps

1. The ground-truth data as well as aerial data obtained from the experiments conducted for paddy crop during Kharif season of 2018 will be analysed.
2. Field experiments will be conducted during Rabi season of 2018-19 (November 2018 to March 2019) in Agricultural Research Farm, IIT Kharagpur for wheat as well as paddy crop with different water stress, nitrogen applications and diseases. In addition to ground based measurement, a drone with multi-spectral and thermal camera will be used to capture the aerial images.

Publications and reports

In Progress



Scholars and Project Staff

Following JRFs have been recruited:
1. Ms. Rituparna Saha: She joined the project as JRF on 22 September 2017 and subsequently joined the PhD program on 22 December 2017.
2. Mr. Sudesh Singh Choudhary: He joined the project as JRF on 16 November 2018
3. Mr. Sudarsan Biswal: He has joined as an Institute Research Scholar (funded by Institute MHRD fellowship for PhD program) in July 2018 and is working for the project.

Challenges faced

Delays in procurement of specialised equipment like drone, thermal camera etc. has resulted in slow progress in initial phase of the project.

Financial Information

  • Total sanction: Rs. 1.95 lakhs

  • Amount received: Rs. 0.73 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Equipment: Rs. 0.11 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Manpower: Rs. 0.06 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Consumables: Rs. 0

  • Amount utilised for Contingency: Rs. 0.07 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Travel: Rs. 0.03 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Other Expenses: 0

  • Amount utilised for Overheads: Rs. 0.12 lakhs

Equipment and facilities


Equipment purchased/being processed:
1. Drone integrated with multi-spectral and thermal camera
2. Multi-spectral camera (Parrot Sequoia)
3. SPAD-502 Chlorophyll Meter
4. RGB camera (SOOCOO S20WS)