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Journal of Geographical Sciences    2019, Vol. 29 Issue (5) : 846-860     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-019-1632-z
Measuring the area of cultivated land reclaimed from rural settlements using an unmanned aerial vehicle
YANG Cunjian1(),XU Guanghong2,LI Hechao3,YANG Defei4,HUANG He5,NI Jing1,LI Xiao6,XIANG Xiao3
1. Research Center of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System Application, Key Laboratory of Land Resources Evaluation and Monitoring in Southwest, Ministry of Education, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610068, China
2. Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Chongqing 400065, China
3. Sichuan Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Center, Chengdu 610045, China
4. College of Landscape Architecture, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037, China
5. College of Fundamental Education, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610068, China
6. Sichuan Land Survey and Planning Research Institute, Chengdu 610045, China
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Investigating and monitoring the area of cultivated land reclaimed from rural settlements is important to optimize rural land use and understand spatial patterns. Measuring cultivated land area is costly and inefficient, however, as this land use type is often widely dispersed and scattered. A new method is therefore explored in this study that utilizes a Phantom2 Vision + (P2V), one kind of Dajiang (DJI) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The method proposed here includes generating rural settlement images using a P2V UAV, subsequently correcting them using a camera lens model, matching them with geo-coded high resolution alternatives, mosaicking them, measuring the area of cultivated land reclaimed from rural settlements, evaluating measurement accuracy, and analyzing overall efficiency. The results of this study show that use of a P2V UAV is reasonable in price, less than 8000 yuan (RMB), and that this method is able to measure cultivated land area reclaimed from rural settlements with 99% accuracy. This method is therefore low cost, highly efficient, and low risk, as well as being easy to learn and use. This UAV-based approach is also likely to be easily popularized and be particularly useful both for application across plains and flats as well as over mountains and hills. The method proposed in this study is also likely to prove beneficial for monitoring and managing rural land use and future consolidation.

Keywords unmanned aerial vehicle      remote sensing      reclaimed cultivated land      rural settlements      image mosaic     
Fund:National Key Research and Development Program of China, No.2018YFB0505303;Science and Technology Support Project of China, No.2014BAL01804;Science and Technology Project of Sichuan Provincial Department of Education, No.11ZA098
Issue Date: 19 April 2019
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YANG Cunjian
XU Guanghong
LI Hechao
YANG Defei
NI Jing
LI Xiao
Cite this article:   
YANG Cunjian,XU Guanghong,LI Hechao, et al. Measuring the area of cultivated land reclaimed from rural settlements using an unmanned aerial vehicle[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2019, 29(5): 846-860.
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Figure 1  The P2V UAV used in this study
Parameters Values
UAV length 350 mm
Wing span 420 mm
Take-off and landing mode Vertical
Maximum take-off weight 1,400 g
Maximum flight speed 15 m/s
Maximum ascending speed/descending speed Ascending: 6 m/s; descending: 2 m/s
Maximum duration of flight 25 minutes
Power source Electricity
Material Plastics
Working environmental temperature Between zero and 40℃
Outdoor communication distance Between 500 m and 700 m
Controllable rotation range of the cloud platform Between -90° and 0°
Precise angle control of the cloud platform ± 0.03°
Table 1  P2V technology parameters
Figure 2  Schematic method for measuring plot area using P2V UAV images
Figure 3  The fly line
Figure 4  One image captured by the P2V UAV system
Figure 5  Example of a lens corrected DJI UAV image
Figure 6  A mosaic series of UAV images
Plot number No.1 No.2 No.3 No.4
Area 1,281.37 4,184.35 709.31 573.12
Table 2  Areas of cultivated land plots following reclamation (m2)
Figure 7  Cultivated land plot 1 following reclamation
Figure 8  Cultivated land plot 2 following reclamation
Figure 9  Cultivated land plot 3 and plot 4 following reclamation
Plot No. Reference image Mosaic P2V UAV image Difference Error(%) Accuracy (%)
Plot 5 1,638.84 1,645.25 6.41 0.391 99.609
Plot 4 1,378.08 1,375.24 -2.84 -0.206 99.794
Plot 1 1,250.38 1,242.64 -7.74 -0.619 99.381
Plot 2 1,138.4 1,148.75 10.35 0.901 99.099
Plot 3 758.95 759.9 0.95 0.125 99.875
Total 6,164.65 6,171.78 7.13 0.116 99.884
Table 3  Mosaic P2V UAV image plot errors (m2)
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