At the end of the 2023 season, the question was asked whether we could more readily, yet still robustly, measure canopy cover. We knew the answer to this question: multispectral index from drone captured images. We knew drones gave the coverage. We knew that multispectral make comparisons over time and space more robust. We also knew that DJI had recently released the Mavic 3M and it was getting rave reviews. In the end, the decision was made quite quickly.

The basic specs of the DJI Mavic 3M met our requirements. One, it comes with DJI service, which has proven very good. Two, the RGB camera is 20MP, meaning it wouldn’t be a backwards step from the Phantom 4s. Three, the battery capacity is similarly as good or better than the Phantom. Four, our service provider SOLVI are M3M ready. Then, on top of that, the multispectral capabilities are out-of-the-box ready to go. The experience of our trusted partner SOLVI with the M3M is that the incidental light sensor gives as good a calibration as you could hope for. There is the little cherry on top of RTK accuracy, but it is doubtful that this will give much benefit within our current system.

The goal for this season will be to have usable measurements of canopy development with the national variety trials.


As of 2024-02-14, we’re still at least three months off having any real experience with the M3M. The things we’re most interested to see how they fair are:

  • Mission planning.
  • Having a built in screen.
  • Calibration process.

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