Quantification of simulated cow urine puddle areas using a thermal IR camera

Dennis Snoek*, Jan Willem Hofstee, Arjen W. van Dueren den Hollander, Roel E. Vernooij, Nico W.M. Ogink, Peter W.G. Groot Koerkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In Europe, National Emission Ceilings (NEC) have been set to regulate the emissions of harmful gases, like ammonia (NH3). From NH3 emission models and a sensitivity analysis, it is known that one of the major variables that determines NH3 emission from dairy cow houses is the urine puddle area on the floor. However, puddle area data from cow houses is scarce. This is caused by the lack of appropriate measurement methods and the challenging measurement circumstances in the houses. In a preliminary study inside commercial dairy cow houses, an IR camera was successfully tested to distinguish a fresh urine puddle from its background to determine a puddle's area. The objective of this study was to further develop, improve and validate the IR camera method to determine the area of a warm fluid layer with a measurement uncertainty of <0.1 m2. In a laboratory set-up, 90 artificial, warm, blue puddles were created, and both an IR and a colour image of each puddle was taken within 5 s after puddle application. For the colour images, three annotators determined the ground truth puddle areas (Ap,GT). For the IR images, an adaptive IR threshold algorithm was developed, based on the mean background temperature and the standard deviation of all temperature values in an image. This IR algorithm was able to automatically determine the IR puddle area (Ap,IR) in each IR image. The agreement between the two methods was assessed. The Ap,IR underestimated the Ap,GT by 2.53% for which is compensated by the model Ap,GT=1.0253·Ap,IR. This regression model intercepted with zero and the noise was only 0.0651 m2, so the measurement uncertainty was <0.1 m2. In addition, the Ap,IR was not affected by the mean background temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Adaptive threshold
  • Ammonia emission
  • Cow urine
  • Infrared camera
  • Puddle area


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