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How Much Resolution Do You Need?

Finding a balance between image resolution and data costs

The amount of resolution you need depends on what you’re trying to do. Let's look at a very simple use-case: counting.

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So what resolution do we need to count cherry trees? In this case, we could probably use a 40 cm pixel, but several things affect this: tree spacing, cover crop growth, tree size, etc. A different orchard, or a different crop might require a different resolution. We might ask the question a different way: “How many pixels do we need to identify an object, and differentiate it from its surroundings?”

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It’s hard to give an answer that applies to every case, but in both our examples 8 pixels were good enough to give a count.

How much resolution do you need for using radiometric data–like plant vigor? Once again, it depends on what you’re trying to do.

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So if you want to see basic patterns in vigor over this vineyard, a 1-meter pixel might be adequate. If you want to determine vigor along each trellis, a 40 cm pixel would work. If you want to see variation at the vine-level, you’ll want a 20 cm pixel.