Low Altitude NDVI Research

Using Low Altitude NDVI to Monitor Health of Individual Newly Planted Trees

Researcher: Michael Bahe

Principle Investigator: Dr. Gary Johnson

Interactive Map of Research Trees

Survival of newly planted trees is critical to a sustainable forest in urban areas. Trees planted in these areas are typically purchased from commercial nurseries and delivered for planting in one of four root system forms: balled-and-burlapped (B & B), plastic container (container), bareroot for spring planting, or gravel bed bareroot for fall planting. These four nursery root system forms have wide ranging costs for material purchase, and equipment/labor needed for installation. Urban planting projects can be limited due to available funds and therefore plantings need to be successful for a positive return on investment. A successful urban planting has three components: it fulfils the desired quantity of trees installed per plan, the financial burden is low relative to expected benefits, and trees are surviving with vigor after three growing seasons post planting (establishment). This research investigates the third component of a successful planting, trees becoming established, by evaluating the performance of newly planted trees in each of the four root system forms in a non-laboratory urban setting. To determine performance, a quantifiable, genus specific, healthy baseline will be established using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) calculated using low altitude aerial imagery from an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Trees rating below the baseline will be assessed for abnormalities and remediation prescriptions developed if determined necessary. Trees receiving remediation will be monitored for NDVI value changes in response to prescribed treatments.