The School of Engineering’s Precision Agriculture Research Team at the University of St. Thomas is conducting research using a customised FarmBot. This modified robot is aimed toward an overall goal of addressing the world crisis of food shortages and the development of new technologies to grow healthy crops using less man-made and natural resources.
A sophisticated multispectral camera that has been mounted face down on the bot takes images of the plants below. This camera has the capability to look at plants in a number of different spectral wavelengths. The collected image and metadata is sent to the Precision Agriculture Cluster where the information is held in a “data lake.”
The collected data is then analysed to compute health indices (on the health of individual lettuce plants). These indices reveal important information on where and when the health of the plants is impacted due to environmental factors so the team (and eventually, farmers) can make decisions on how best to optimise the yield of the growing crop.
Ultimately the team plans to develop algorithms that are able to make recommendations to the farmer/grower on how best to: improve crop health; reduce/prevent infestation by insects/virus/fungus/weeds; determine areas where plants needs more or less water; determine areas where crops are not getting enough nutrients from the soil; and what, when and where to plant in the subsequent growing cycle.
If you like this be sure to check out the FarmBot on Wevolver.