Headwall & Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Awarded Contract for High-Endurance Fixed-Wing Hyperspectral Imaging UAV for Wide Area Precision Agriculture

Headwall & Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Awarded Contract for High-Endurance Fixed-Wing Hyperspectral Imaging UAV for Wide Area Precision Agriculture

Project funded in part by the BIRD (Binational Industrial Research and Development) Foundation

Bolton, MA – August 1, 2019 –Headwall, the industry leader in turnkey hyperspectral imaging solutions for remote sensing and precision agriculture, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a leader in UAV technology, announced that a project valued at  approximately $1 million USD for large-scale precision agriculture has been awarded by the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation to develop a high endurance UAV and hyperspectral imaging solution for agricultural customers with thousands of hectares of crops.

Image courtesy Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI); drone over agricultural fieldDevelopment of the Precision Agriculture Decision Support System will utilise a custom-designed and manufactured wide-area hyperspectral imaging payload and a fixed-wing UAV designed for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions, as well as analytics that allow accurate assessment of crop and soil conditions as well as crop disease over a wide area with high resolution and positional accuracy.

“Headwall has always strived for commercialisation of advanced spectral imaging technology for the benefit of customers worldwide,” David Bannon, CEO of Headwall commented. “IAI combines rugged and reliable military technology with commercial know-how for this project to assist farmers with decisions based on comprehensive yet rapid reports made possible by our sensor systems. Deployment of high endurance solutions for wide area data acquisition integrated with advanced hyperspectral and multispectral sensors is a game changer for the agriculture industry”.

Projects submitted to the BIRD Foundation are reviewed by evaluators appointed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Israel Innovation Authority.

Dr. Amiram Appelbaum, Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Economy and Industry, Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and co-Chairman of BIRD’s Board of Governors said, “The U.S. is one of Israel’s major partners for innovation. We are proud of our long-standing collaboration with the BIRD Foundation that has resulted in such spectacular successes over the decades and numerous groundbreaking technological innovations offered by both Israeli and U.S recipients of the grant. We are confident that this year’s grant recipients in the various fields and the new projects approved will prove vital for the population worldwide.”

About Headwall

Headwall Photonics is a leading designer and manufacturer of spectral instrumentation for remote sensing, advanced machine vision, and government/defense markets. With a worldwide base of end-user and OEM customers, Headwall enjoys a market leadership position through the design and manufacture of spectral solutions that are customised for application-specific performance. The Company is based in Massachusetts where it has two locations (Bolton and Fitchburg). European operations (Headwall BVBA) are located near Brussels, Belgium.

About IAI

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is a leader in both the defense and commercial markets, delivering state-of-the-art technologies and systems in all domains – providing customers with tailored, cutting-edge solutions in the unique challenges that they face. IAI provides a wide range of solutions and services from special mission aircraft to advanced unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

About the BIRD Foundation

The BIRD (Binational Industrial Research and Development) Foundation works to encourage and facilitate cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies in a wide range of technology sectors and offers funding to selected projects.

Hyperspectral Imaging in Quality Control for the Global Meat Industry

Let’s take a look at the role of Hyperspectral Imaging in Quality and Integrity for the Global Meat Industry.

One of the international speakers at next week’s ICoMST 2018 (64th International Congress of Meat Science and Technology) is Dr Marlon dos Reis, Senior Scientist – Food and Bio-based Products at AgResearch in New Zealand.

ICoMST is to be held in Melbourne with the theme of Quality and Integrity for Global Consumers. e.g. Test whether lamb meat is really lamb.

We can’t wait to hear Dr dos Reis speak on “Chemometrics and hyperspectral imaging applied to assessment of chemical, textural and structural characteristics of meat”, corresponding to his work to be published in Volume 144 of the Meat Science Journal (October 2018)

A video of Dr dos Reis’ presentation will be available after the congress.

Applications for Chemometrics in Meat Science

In his career, Dr dos Reis has focus ed on the application and development of spectroscopic techniques for the assessment of meat, including techniques based on nuclear magnetic resonance, NIR spectroscopy and Hyperspectral imaging.

Dr Marlon dos Reis, New Zealand - Hyperspectral Imaging Expert

Attracted to AgResearch in New Zealand in 2007, Marlon is excited to apply chemometrics across so many applications and we are excited to learn from him first-hand. In an interview recorded on the AgResearch website, he explained his current projects.

“In Chemometrics we develop and apply statistical and mathematical models to interpret and do better use of data related to chemistry. For example in food assurance we collected spectroscopic data (e.g. near infrared spectra) which brings lots of information about the chemical composition and structure of food.

“This type of data is very easy to collect but needs chemometric models to be useful. So I develop chemometric models for applications such authentication (e.g. test whether lamb meat is really lamb), to predict functional attributes (e.g. bulk density of dairy powder) assess whether the product is still within the expected shelf-life and others.”

A Major Focus for Headwall Photonics and Portable Analytical Solutions (PAS)

Using Hyperspectral Imaging in Food Safety and Pathogen Detection

Headwall’s Infrared Hyperspectral solutions offer a depth of vision far beyond the capabilities of any other technology.

It is a major step forward in the successful detection of foreign matter and pathogens that are unseen visually but impact the safety of the foods we eat. From poultry and seafood to lamb, beef, and specialty crops, spectral imaging delivers a level of material classification that far exceeds typical RGB cameras.

PAS has been the Australia / New Zealand distributor of Headwall spectral imaging including the award-winning Hyperspec® instruments since 2013. We provide sales support, service and training for these application-specific, rugged and versatile analysers.

Contact PAS about these key products


Headwall Photonics Increases It’s Visibility

A vibrant new website from Headwall Photonics highlights even more clearly its impressive array of industry-leading spectrometry instrumentation and brilliant industry solutions.

Catering for diverse applications across Remote Sensing, Advanced Machine Vision, Medical/Biotech and Defense/Government, the new site provides greater ease of navigation.

This enables site visitors to quickly appreciate how Headwall’s range of products correspond with specific demands for data capture, management and analysis.


Headwall’s Spectral Imaging Sensors are used EVERYWHERE!

PAS is excited about the benefits of the new site for our customers who may be time-poor, overloaded with information and working on a deadline.

One valuable page on the new site is Published Research which catalogues selected scholarly articles demonstrating some of the myriad of applications for spectral instruments.

“These papers describe just a sampling of the fascinating applications using Headwall’s hyperspectral and multispectral imaging sensors,” the page reads. “From remote sensing and medical/biotech to cultural preservation and food inspection, Headwall is THE industry leader in spectral imaging solutions.”


Access Headwall through Portable Analytical Solutions

PAS has been the Australia / New Zealand distributor of Headwall spectral imaging including the award-winning Hyperspec® instruments since 2013. We provide sales support, service and training for these application-specific, rugged and versatile analysers.

Contact PAS about these key products

Headwall Nano Hyperspec On DJI
Headwall Hyperspec Nano
Headwall Hyperspec Nano With Vector Nav

Precision Ag study employs FieldSpec4

Measuring solar radiation in Australian study with the ASD FieldSpec4

A new article published by Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) highlights an innovative application of the FieldSpec4 multi-spectral radiometer to measure solar radiation exposure on apple and pear crops, covered with several varieties of netting.

As the article’s abstract reads, “Netting intercepts solar radiation, reducing the amount of energy reaching fruit and hence lowering the risk of sunburn and colour bleaching of fruit. However, netting also lowers radiation 
that is needed for photosynthesis and colour development. In this article we present some preliminary data on the effects of netting on some important wavelengths of light.”

The FieldSpec4 was a key part of the study, measuring solar radiation in 2nm increments from 350nm to 2500nm, extracting wavebands corresponding to solar radiation, ultraviolet A radiation, photosynthetically active radiation and infrared radiation. A black curtain placed around the radiometer minimised reflective radiation.

The study describes the positioning of the spectrometer which remained stationary below the netting, while the netting was moved laterally throughout the process. The spectrometer was facing upwards.

ASD FieldSpec4 positioning

FieldSpec4 for your application

The wide range of portable analysis solutions available from PAS are versatile and customisable to an amazing degree, dependent on the specific demands of each application. Our engineers are specialists in calibrating instruments to suit your particular objectives, constraints and conditions.

Learn more about the comprehensive ASD FieldSpec range available through PAS in Australia or New Zealand. Consider other hyperspectral analysers for different situations, such as airborne sensors.

Read the article on the apple/pear production using the ASD FieldSpec4 multi-spectral here





Airborne Hyperspectral & Ground-Truthing

Hyperspectral and Ground-Truthing Whitepaper available from PAS

For a wide range of critical applications, the combination of airborne hyperspectral with ground-based non-imaging hyperspectral radiometers represents the optimal solution. A comprehensive white paper on the topic, written by Headwall Photonics and ASD Inc, part of Malvern Panalytical, is one of many available from PAS for your reference. The paper offers excellent background and specific examples of applications, procedures and results.

The worldwide precision agriculture industry is vital on so many fronts because countries depend on the revenue derived from citrus, wine-grapes, nuts and other specialty crops. Also, famine relief is the byproduct of successfully planting and harvesting crops in harsh and unforgiving climates.

Hyperspectral imaging is playing an increasingly large role here because economic and life-sustaining decisions need data that is precise and actionable. Yet, while hyperspectral images contain a wealth of data, accurate interpretation of the image requires first-hand familiarity of the surface being analysed.

In the absence of ground-truthing, remotely sensed image analysis and classification is really no more than an inference or assumption regarding earth surface conditions no matter how spatially or spectrally resolute the source image happens to be.

Ground-based reference measurements can be used to verify airborne hyperspectral data, which means the combination represents a powerful solution for the remote-sensing community. As leaders in their respective areas, Headwall and ASD understand the relationship between ground-truthing and hyperspectral.

Spectral range for ground-truthing and hyperspectral

Case study: Wyoming Assessment Project and Remote Sensing of Leafy Spurge – A.P. Williams, D.J. Kazmer

A fundamental research need in leafy spurge and invasive plant management as a whole is cost-effective, large-scale mapping of plant populations. Hyperspectral airborne data was acquired over a

25-square-mile study area in Crook County, Wyoming. ASD’s FieldSpec spectroradiometer collected ground calibration and reflectance data of leafy spurge, other vegetation and soils. These spectra were used to perform spectral mixture analysis on the hyperspectral scene. A major advantage of this technique is that it can effectively unmix a pixel and provide an estimate of the real extent of leafy spurge within the pixel.


To further explore these techniques and your specific application, talk to the team at PAS in Australia or New Zealand.


Which FieldSpec spectrometer for me?

With such an extensive range of spectral resolution options in the SWIR range, and ultra-portable VNIR-only models, it can be hard to know which of ASD’s FieldSpec 4 spectrometers and spectroradiometers will best suit your specific application. That’s where we come in.

ASD pioneered the science of field spectroscopy over 25 years ago. With a strong commitment to R&D, ASD’s enhancements to core instrument spectrometers and other critical components have dramatically improved overall performance, signal, and integration speeds compared to earlier models. 


A spectrometer for every occasion

The ASD FieldSpec 4 leaves the factory floor calibrated as a spectroradiometer, ready for precise radiance and irradiance measurements, but is equally suited for use as a spectrometer for accurate contact or stand-off reflectance analysis with a wide range of standard accessories.

All ASD FieldSpec spectrometers and spectroradiometers provide 3 nm spectral resolution in the VNIR (350 nm – 1000 nm) range. Four spectral resolution options are available for the SWIR (1001 nm – 2500 nm) range.

  • The enhanced 6 nm SWIR spectral resolution of the ASD FieldSpec 4 Hi-Res NG spectroradiometer provides both the sampling interval (bandwidth) and the spectral resolution to support accurate calibration and image classification analysis with the next generation high spectral resolution hyperspectral sensors.
  • With 8 nm SWIR spectral resolution the ASD FieldSpec 4 Hi-Res spectroradiometer is the instrument of choice for geological studies and atmospheric research.
  • The ASD FieldSpec 4 Standard-Res spectroradiometer, with 10 nm SWIR resolution is perfectly suited for characterizing spectral features with a resolution of 10 nm to 50 nm, which covers the technical requirements of most field researchers. The ASD FieldSpec 4 Standard-Res spectroradiometer has long been the industry’s go-to workhorse instrument for trusted field spectroscopy and the scope of potential applications is broad.
  • Because of its wide optical slit the ASD FieldSpec 4 Wide–Res spectroradiometer provides the highest signal throughput and offers the best signal to noise performance of any ASD FieldSpec model. These high throughput characteristics also benefit field measurements taken in less than optimal illumination conditions. The 30 nm SWIR resolution of the ASD FieldSpec 4 Wide-Res spectroradiometer makes it an ideal fit for applications such as vegetation analysis and vegetation indices that are characterized by broad spectral features. This instrument is also available at a significantly lower price point than other ASD FieldSpec models, which makes it an attractive option when budgets are tight.

Not all research needs are created equal and the spectral reflectance characteristics of different materials can vary greatly. Portable Analytical Solutions has seen ASD FieldSpec 4 models applied in a huge variety of situations. Speak to us about your specific application goals.


Precision Ag history heralds bright future

Over the past two decades, precision ag history has been marked by rapid development and positive outcomes.

Precision ag has become, well, much more precise.

According to David Mulla from the University of Minnesota, USA, in his article on Precision Ag history, “Spectral bandwidth has decreased dramatically with the advent of hyperspectral remote sensing, allowing improved analysis of specific compounds, molecular interactions, crop stress, and crop biophysical or biochemical characteristics.

Portable Analytical Solutions has relished our partnership with spectrometry specialist Headwall Photonics as we equip agribusiness with higher-quality data and more sophisticated planning and risk reduction. The result has been greater profitability, identification and mitigated risk and increased crop security.

This 2017 slideshow gallery includes actual product used by Jeff Boyer, superintendent of the Davis-Purdue Agricultural Center near Farmland, Indiana, USA.

Do any of these ‘museum exhibits’ look familiar?

If you are more interested in the future of precision ag, remote sensing or groundtruthing, speak to PAS today.

Case Study – Hyperspectral Imaging Fights Citrus Blight

Precision Ag Case Study

Hyperspectral Imaging Fights Citrus Blight

How can hyperspectral imaging make a difference to precision agriculture? Consider this example of a US project to inspect orange groves, looking for citrus blight disease, which used a Headwall Photonics’ Hyperspec® VNIR hyperspectral solution with an OEM camera mounted on a UAV.

VNIR hyperspectral imagery for valuable data quality

Citrus blight destroys the vitality of trees and can spread throughout the grove. One of the early signs of this disease is a byproduct secreted on the surface of the leaves. Inspection for this used to require a person climbing a ladder to inspect the top of each tree. More often, growers might not know of a problem until trees started dying.

With hyperspectral imaging, this can be seen 300-400 meters above the crops covering a large area quickly (mounted on UAVs), allowing quick action to eliminate the spread and minimise the destruction.

Had only multispectral sensing been employed, this level of detail would not have been available and the correct decisions would not have been taken. Crop loss due to disease, such as citrus blight, and inaction leads to the loss of millions of dollars and the loss of a whole season in many cases.

PAS is the exclusive distributor of Headwall’s range of industry-leading hyperspectral solutions, and customises them for the demands of specific applications.

Precision ag: Multi Spec Vs Hyperspec

What’s the difference between multispectral and hyperspectral?

Imagine we could safely view the world through the eyes of different creatures, enabling us to view infrared radiation, ultraviolet light and reflected electromagnetic energy*. Well, we can, with the use of multispectral and hyperspectral sensors.

Each technology is able to sense (“see”) outside the range of normal human vision. The difference is the number of bands and the narrowness of the bands.

Multispectral imagery generally refers to 3-10 wide bands, using a remote sensing radiometer.

Hyperspectral imagery consists of many more bands (hundreds or thousands) that are much narrower (10-20nm), using an imaging spectrometer.


Multispectral vs Hyperspectral Imagery Explained

Why does it matter for precision ag?

It’s a question of detail.

The more detailed the spectral information recorded by a sensor, the more information that can be extracted from the spectral signatures.

Hyperspectral sensors have much more detailed signatures than multispectral sensors and thus provide the ability to detect more subtle differences in aquatic and terrestrial features.

Consider this example about a US project to inspect orange groves, looking for citrus blight disease, which used a Headwall Photonics’ Hyperspec® VNIR hyperspectral solution with an OEM camera mounted on a UAV.

Citrus blight destroys the vitality of trees and can spread throughout the grove. One of the early signs of this disease is a byproduct secreted on the surface of the leaves. Inspection for this used to require a person climbing a ladder to inspect the top of each tree. More often, growers might not know of a problem until trees started dying.  With hyperspectral imaging, this can be seen 300-400 meters above the crops covering a large area quickly (mounted on UAVs), allowing quick action to eliminate the spread and minimise the destruction.


For precision ag, the more detail, the better.

Imagine flying over a property and looking down at fields of different colours and appearance. You might decide you know what is planted in each paddock, with accuracy dependent on how low you are flying.

With multispectral detection, you would certainly be able to see differences between various elements, such as a tree plantation versus another crop.

With hyperspectral capabilities, you will see individual trees and plants, and even the subtle differences in the EMR emitted by disease and soil moisture levels etc.

In its 2017-2019 Strategic Plan, the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ first goal is Innovation in primary industries to improve resilience and boost productivity.

There is no doubt that hyperspectral imagery is the most advanced precision ag solution to transform our analysis and optimisation of production, risk management, use of resources and reducing disease.


Talk to PAS about the possibilities for the use of hyperspectral solutions in your agricultural context.



Precision ag: a spectrometry revolution

Access sophisticated precision ag technology for accurate and innovative farm management

Precision ag is a critical remote sensing application with the potential to impact any aspect of society. The use of UAVs in agriculture has been well-documented but the value of high-end data collectors mounted on the UAV or other vehicle is transforming data into agricultural treasure!

Peter Drucker’s saying, ‘what gets measured, gets improved’, highlights the importance of robust analysis and interpretation of data.

With precision ag, high-value crops can be planted, cared for, and harvested with the help of spectral data that leads to better decision-making. As a result, spectacular crop yields and healthier foods are achievable outcomes – of enormous value where agricultural success is a life-saving or life-enriching necessity.

Hyperspectral image sensors also monitor irrigation levels, pesticide and fertiliser effectiveness, and spot the telltale signs of invasive and hard-to-detect diseases. The key is to recognise these signs early and often, which is why continual airborne monitoring allows for trend analysis throughout the season.

From UAVs and aircraft as well as tractors and other mobile machinery, researchers can determine stress levels and overall plant vitality using hyperspectral image sensors at the VNIR (400-1000nm) and SWIR (900-2500nm) spectral ranges. These sensors operate in a line-scanning fashion, requiring movement to occur as the sensor builds a data-rich image cube containing all the spatial and spectral information within the field of view. GPS and LiDAR, plus the post-processing task of orthorectification, stamp the image data precisely. The end result is high-quality data that farmers and agriculturalists can use to make smart decisions.


Precision ag in Australia / New Zealand

In the Australian agricultural setting, hyperspectral imaging’s ability to cover distances with accuracy is a boon to primary producers seeking to maximise yield, minimise waste and manage scarce resources.

PAS is the Australian / New Zealand home of a range of sensors and analysers for any aspect of precision ag, including the Nano-Hyperspec and Micro-Hyperspec sensors from Headwall Photonics and the FieldSpec NIR models from ASD.

Headwall supplements its sensors with the industry’s best airborne hyperspectral software package called Hyperspec III. The package includes all the tools necessary to set up the sensor for airborne operation, and tie that operation in with GPS and LiDAR data streams. The software also manages more than one sensor at a time, permitting a single pass using a VNIR and a separate SWIR sensor for example.

Headwall’s sensors feature aberration-correction for precise image data from edge to edge. This wide field of view is particularly beneficial for the new breed of small, lightweight UAVs that require flight-path optimisation. The wider the field of view, the fewer passes over a plot of land the UAV (or aircraft) needs to make.

The ASD FieldSpec® line offers a wide range of configuration options for both contact measurements (such as leaves or in a soil profile pit) and stand-off measurements (such as those needed to measure canopy reflectance). The FieldSpec uses a flexible fibre optic cable that can be used with many different accessories and configurations, giving researchers many options for acquiring critical data.

Speak to PAS about the breadth of solutions available to meet the needs of precision ag applications and many others as well.