Researchers at the University of Alcalá present a novel device that allows non-destructive sampling of treetops from the ground to quantify the damage caused by biotic agents (pests) and abiotic (storms, hail, torrential rains) or to control production of fruits, without the need for artificial means of elevating the operator, reducing the risk to the observer and to the health of the tree itself.
The research group seeks to achieve commercial or licensing agreements with companies in the forestry sector (wood, cork, ...), agriculture sector or agricultural insurers.
Observation of tree crowns is necessary to quantify the production of organs (leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, buds, branches, etc.), which is relevant in both agroforestry and forestry studies and in science basic studies. Direct observation techniques are also used for the quantification of damages caused at an individual level, by pests or adverse atmospheric agents.
This is especially important for the insurers' assessment of the damages caused in agriculture or for the application of phytosanitary treatments.
The device consists of an extendable pole to which a horizontal platform with a transverse rectangular frame is anchored at one end, and a movable metal plate with an imaging device, at the other. The device is operated from the ground and allows the angle of the platform to be adjusted by means of an elbow located at its bottom and the distance from the device to the reference frame by means of a movable metal plate.
The device therefore allows to raise a camera of photos or video at the height of the treetop to make the necessary observations. This ensures a perfect take of the images without having to destroy part of the tree or to climb to the top of the tree.
The device ensures an adequate stability for the taking of the images or videos and allows a regulation of the height of observation, as well as the angle of the camera or video to adapt to a wide range of heights of more than two meters.
Techniques of direct observation or collection of samples (usually fragments of the branches of the plant) have been used with pruning shears or pruning hooks incorporated to poles.
The direct observation of samples in height (middle or upper zone of treetops) requires artificial means of elevation (stairs, platforms, etc.), with the consequent risk to the observer.
On the other hand, the cutting of branches involves a partial destruction of the tree. In this way, both groups of techniques limit the possibilities of replication.
- Nevertheless, this new method, allows to make the observations that are considered necessary as it is not invasive.
- It ensures with him, a perfect taking of the images without having to destroy part of the treetop or to climb to that heights.
- The device ensures an adequate stability for the taking of the images or videos and allows a regulation of the height of observation, as well as the angle of the camera or video.
The device allows various applications in the fields of forestry, agriculture and in basic research on aspects related to the ecophysiology of trees.
The detailed imaging of the treetops allows the quantification of the production of different organs (number of flowers, fruits, leaves, new branches, etc.), to evaluate their phenological status, to evaluate the presence of parasites, frost or hail, or any other biotic or abiotic phenomenon that may affect the tree and therefore its productivity.
The device is especially useful for specimens whose height does not allow direct observation by a person from the ground. Because the image is taken referenced to a known surface (rectangular wooden frame area), images taken from different specimens can be compared, thus comparing the efficiency of different silvicultural or agricultural treatments (phytosanitary treatments, subscribers, irrigation, etc.) on the state of health and productivity of the different individuals.
In addition, it would also allows a more complete assessments of damage of trees and agriculture by agents of agricultural insurers.
Intellectual property status
Patent number : The patent has been granted by the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office with publication reference 2530887 and date of the concession 16th of September of 2015. Nothing like this has been found in the scientific literature consulted.
Current development status
Commercially available technologies
Desired business relationship
New technology applications
Adaptation of technology to other markets
Other : The research group seeks to reach commercial agreements or licensing agreements with forestry, agriculture and agricultural insurers, interested in the observation and control of specimens whose height does not allow direct observation from the ground.