Sowing direction optimization – The Elevation Analysis


Due to the fast evolution of the technology, UAV systems or drones are becoming increasingly accessible and a lot more performant with a wide range of applicability. In this article we will deepen the applicability and benefits of drones in the precision farming industry.

Drona fixed wing - Trinity F90+

Trinity F90+ by Quantum Systems – Fixed Wing Drone

Precision farming or precision agriculture involves continuous optimizations in all areas of technological workflow to increase efficiency on entire production. The topic we are going to approach in this article is the sowing direction optimization considering the terrain elevation model, in order to prevent standing puddles between the rows.


Key benefits using drones:

  • Efficiency – automated system operations are saving time and guarantees comparable results;

  • High quality data – integrated advanced auto-pilot with high resolution cameras ensuring the fidelity of the collected data;

  • Flexibility – capturing and analyzing data from impossible perspective by classical methods;

UAV Systems or drones continue doing a significant impact on precision farming or precision agriculture. Presently there are advanced systems where intelligent machines are modifying their parameters based on the data collected by drones. If you want to learn more regarding this topic see our previous article on What’s the variable application rate?

Current applications of drones in precision farming:

  • Plant analysis – RGB Spectrum and plant counting

  • Plant health analysis – multispectral analysis

  • Variable application rate

  • Rata de aplicare variabila

  • Terrain field analyzes

The main advantages in the present case and purpose of this article are:

  • Highly detailed terrain analysis;

  • Identifying areas with high risk of puddling

  • Determining an optimal sowing direction

Therefore the final advantage for the farmer is increasing the production.

Elevation analysis

To determine the optimal sowing direction there were made further analyses:

  • General elevation analysis;

  • Sections

  • Puddling

The total analysed area is around 29 hectares. At first sight you can get the impression that the ground looks straight without any unevenness.


The orthophotoplan si an highly detailed overview image, created with the data captured by the drone. The following orthophotoplan is georeferenced with an accuracy of 0.21 centimeters and has a spatial resolution of 1.1 centimeter/pixel.

Digital elevation model (DEM)

The digital elevation model or DEM is the digital representation of the earth’s surface and contains millions of altimetric observations. DEM is offering a detailed perspective of all the unevenness present on the analyzed surface.

For the following elevation analysis, a georeferenced digital elevation model was created with an accuracy of 2.1 centimeter and a resolution of 3.7 centimeter/pixel. The high accuracy helped us ensures precision measurements on all our analysed images. In the image above the high surfaces are represented in red and the low surfaces in blue.

Elevation analysis

As can be seen in the image above, the surface is uneven although it can’t be seen with the unaided eye. This means that the analyzed land can benefit from improvements and the production can be increased. In the image above the high surfaces are represented in yellow and the low surfaces in blue.


In order to determine the optimal sowing direction, there were chosen 2 areas of interest in which sections were made. This sections are important because they’re showing us the profile of the elevation in the interest area, such that we can determine exactly the difference of elevation and it’s location.

Section 1 in the image above has it’s highest point at 131.09m and it’s lowest point at 129.70m.

Profile elevation model 1

The difference between the highest point and the lowest point is 1.39m

Section 2 in the image above has it’s highest point at 131.34m and it’s lowest point at 129.87m.

Profile elevation 2

The difference between the highest point and the lowest point is 1.47m.


There are 8 areas with a high risk of puddles. Due to the precision of the map, it’s coordinates can be extracted and the puddles can then be corrected based on them.

Determining the sowing direction

If we take into account all the aspects mentioned above, in order to optimize the sowing direction we divided the land into two distinct surfaces.

Given the results of the first section, the optimal sowing direction is at an angle of 15 degrees to the north, so water can drain from the highest point of the plot which is centered and perpendicular to the direction of sowing – to its edges in the drain channel as shown above.

In the case of the 2nd surface, the optimal sowing direction is at an 77 degrees to the north, keeping an angle of 90 degrees to the direction of elevation. Doing so the precipitations will flow from the highest point to the lowest point.


There were discovered 8 areas with high risk of puddles and the sowing direction was corrected for the whole plot. With the help of drones we managed to identify things impossible to discover by classical methods, that’s why the drone is as important as any other machine and should not be missing from the equipment of a modern farmer.

What did we found out about from this analysis?

  • We identified areas with a high risk of puddles;

  • We have optimised the sowing direction in order to avoid puddles between rows.

Ever wondered what are the risks on your land? You can contact us at any time for a free consultation!