Farmers and horticulturists face varying difficulties that require experience and knowledge of their fields and crops, gained over many years. These difficulties include, but are not limited to: uneven growth/yield of their fields; inexact and estimated fertiliser application; uneven irrigation and local variations in pests/diseases/weeds. Additionally, the optimum harvest timing is still speculated and often inexact. Faced with numerous variables, farmers cannot avoid high variations in costs and crop yields from year to year. Tools to assist farmers to optimise e.g. fertiliser & water applications or early detection of disease will provide a useful diagnostic and management capability for optimum control of crop growth. Currently, solutions for these challenges do exist, however, current systems are large, heavy, not portable and as such are not readily deployable. They are also prohibitively expensive - typically £10,000 - £150,000 each - and are generally only suitable for use in airborne or satellite imaging applications or laboratory analysis. In effect, the current solutions available for the aforementioned agricultural challenges are limited to large scale farming and/ or high value crops. In these expensive systems, a spectrometer scan or image of the crop is taken at visible and/or infrared wavelengths with analysis showing spectral image signature changes relating to crop growth conditions. The signatures of interest varies from plant to plant and from cause to cause. The colour of a crop (visible and IR) also changes as it approaches maturity, with spectrometer scans providing scientific information for informed management decisions in relation to crop hydration, fertiliser application, disease progression and harvesting. Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI) can capture these changes: HSI systems capture a large number of images of the scene, each at a different wavelength within some range determined by the sensor technology, to produce a so called hyperspecal data cube in which each pixel in the spatial domain contains a spectral profile of the object observed. For our application, this spectral information can be analysed to make decisions about the diagnostics/management of challenges in maximising crop yield. The proposed Hyperspectral Crop Camera (HCC) will be: low-cost, compact portable, simple in operation and robust. A camera housing will contain the sensor, battery and electronics to produce one small simple lightweight device. This device would be suitable for handheld use or potentially mountable in a low cost drone for local airborne analysis. HSI technology in farming and agriculture which can cost anything from £10k - £150k. Application of HCC can allow a farmer and/ or agriculturists to: - Save water by providing optimised or localised irrigation - Timely identify areas of pests/diseases/weeds for early intervention - Optimise use of fertiliser - Determine optimum harvest time and help increase crop yield - Improve evenness of crop yield across field area - Reduced man hours, manually surveying fields etc - Reduce need for technical agronomy training/knowledge.
|Effective start/end date||1/07/16 → 31/12/17|
- BBSRC (Biotech & Biological Sciences Research Council): £67,948.00