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Omani startups harness satellite imagery for palm trees census

6 Feb 2024 Omani startups harness satellite imagery for palm trees census By OUR CORRESPONDENT

Muscat – Two Omani startups, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, have embarked on an innovative initiative using satellite image analysis technology and drones for a palm trees census.

The novel approach was undertaken by Oman Lens, a homegrown satellite and AI company, and Phoenix Space and Technology Company, a specialist in drone technology, for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR). 

In the first phase of the experiment, satellite images were analysed using algorithms created to count palm trees, while a drone was used to ensure the efficiency of the mechanism. In the final phase, a team was sent for traditional counting to verify the accuracy of the results.

‘This exercise demonstrated the efficiency of satellite analysis technology and the use of drones in agricultural census. It is also an important step towards enhancing the effectiveness and accuracy of agricultural monitoring and evaluation operations in Oman,’ a press release said.

Oman Lens was given a Category 3 licence to establish a ground station connected to satellite network by Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) last month.

In a statement, TRA said the licence is the first of its kind in the sultanate and will be used by the licencee to establish a ground station connected to the network of satellites for the purpose of monitoring, tracking and controlling satellites belonging to the Chinese company Star.Vision Aerospace Limited.

The authority confirmed that the licence will contribute to providing satellite images for use in applications such as mapping, environmental monitoring, resource management, agriculture and disaster management.

Phoenix Space and Technology has been working with the MAFWR in deploying drones to spray ultra-low volume pesticides to fight the dubas bug and red palm weevil plaguing date farms in the sultanate.

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