I am considering a project to count growing plants in a field as you are driving over top of them.
The need is for a farmer to know their final plant population, in a row, of various crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, tomatoes, etc. Producers make several in season passes through their crops with sprayers/cultivators etc, travelling at 1-1.5 feet per second.
The project would simply output a count (i.e. how many “plants” did I see. The user would input a row width and the system would require a ground speed input but that part I can figure out.
Using a physical sensor such as a whisker switch is not practical as it will be too easily damaged. Using a IR sensor/detector for broken beams would not be practical as it is not possible to have consistent heights/issues of dust etc messing it up.
The sensor would be best mounted on a fixed boom, height would be “stable”, running just above the row of plants being counted.
Options I have considered:
Ultrasonic sensor (distance) measuring the subtle changes in plant height over the top of the row as you pass plant to plant.
A UV type sensor that measures plant colour (i.e. more/less green) to determine plant density (i.e. if sensor sees less colour, would indicate space between plant, that sort of thing)
Any thoughts on the pros/cons of these types of choices or does anyone have a different idea?
I posted a couple of pictures of plants in fields to give you an idea of what I’d be driving through.