Development of an accurate low cost NDVI imaging system for assessing plant health

John D. Stamford, Silvere Vialet-Chabrand, Iain Cameron, Tracy Lawson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Spectral imaging is a key method for high throughput phenotyping that can be related to a large variety of biological parameters. The Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), uses specific wavelengths to compare crop health and performance. Increasing the accessibility of spectral imaging systems through the development of small, low cost, and easy to use platforms will generalise its use for precision agriculture. We describe a method for using a dual camera system connected to a Raspberry Pi to produce NDVI imagery, referred to as NDVIpi. Spectral reference targets were used to calibrate images into values of reflectance, that are then used to calculated NDVI with improved accuracy compared with systems that use single references/standards. Results: NDVIpi imagery showed strong performance against standard spectrometry, as an accurate measurement of leaf NDVI. The NDVIpi was also compared to a relatively more expensive commercial camera (Micasense RedEdge), with both cameras having a comparable performance in measuring NDVI. There were differences between the NDVI values of the NDVIpi and the RedEdge, which could be attributed to the measurement of different wavelengths for use in the NDVI calculation by each camera. Subsequently, the wavelengths used by the NDVIpi show greater sensitivity to changes in chlorophyll content than the RedEdge. Conclusion: We present a methodology for a Raspberry Pi based NDVI imaging system that utilizes low cost, off-the-shelf components, and a robust multi-reference calibration protocols that provides accurate NDVI measurements. When compared with a commercial system, comparable NDVI values were obtained, despite the fact that our system was a fraction of the cost. Our results also highlight the importance of the choice of red wavelengths in the calculation of NDVI, which resulted in differences in sensitivity between camera systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages19
JournalPlant Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2023


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