Efficiency increase of resources through automation of agriculture requires more information about the production process, as well as process and machinery status. Sensors are necessary for monitoring the status and condition of production by recognizing the surrounding structures such as objects, field structures, natural or artificial markers, and obstacles. Currently, three dimensional (3-D) sensors are economically affordable and technologically advanced to a great extent, so a breakthrough is already possible if enough research projects are commercialized. The aim of this review paper is to investigate the state-of-the-art of 3-D vision systems in agriculture, and the role and value that only 3-D data can have to provide information about environmental structures based on the recent progress in optical 3-D sensors. The structure of this research consists of an overview of the different optical 3-D vision techniques, based on the basic principles. Afterwards, their application in agriculture are reviewed. The main focus lays on vehicle navigation, and crop and animal husbandry. The depth dimension brought by 3-D sensors provides key information that greatly facilitates the implementation of automation and robotics in agriculture.
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