This study is part of the Smart Agri Hubs project which is a European project that wants to stimulate digital innovation in the European agrifood sector.
As we all know, reducing the use of plant protection products for weed and disease control in arable farming and horticulture is important on economical, ecological and social levels. This project aims to do so by combining artificial intelligence (AI) with RGB and multispectral cameras and drones that map disease and weed levels in crops. This technology will enable the farmer or contractor to use the right products, at the right rate, in the right places, with efficient disease and weed control as a result.
How does it work?
We install cameras on the sprayer booms of contractors and farmers who are involved in the project to test our technology in practice. The camera drones captures images of the fields that belong to stakeholders. Later, we use the acquired data to develop detection algorithms with Artifical Intelligence (AI).
We focus on two crops: potatoes and maize. Our research on potato crops focuses on weed and disease detection (Alternaria Solani).
For maize crops, we focus on weed detection right before the correction treatment. The models we develop, will function as input for task maps that the farmer or contractor can use to execute variable spraying or to manage the spraying machine in real time.
Living Lab approach
Our Living Lab approach is as follows: scientists from ILVO and UGhent collaborate with farmers, contractors, innovation hubs (SDF and Flanders food), Innovation Support Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development (ISP) and tech manufacturers of camera’s (Imec), drones, robots (Exobotic) and AI software (Robovision to accomplish the goal of our project. Co-creation with farmers and contractors is especially important. From the beginning, we use their extensive hands-on knowledge and feedback to create technological solutions. Furthermore, their support enables us to gather data in a realistic practical setting and to test, evaluate and demonstrate our technology in practice.
The A14Agriculture project is a perfect example of how the Living Lab Agrifood Technology operates. The collaboration and knowledge exchange between farmers and contractors, on the one hand, and tech companies and scientists, on the other hand, is the foundation for any project we undertake with our Living Lab. AI4Agriculture also attests to the importance and relevance of testing innovative solutions in practice. Because we tested our innovations in practical conditions, we were able to locate and fix some of the problems of our technology. So, the feedback we got from these tests will be essential for optimizing our and other innovative technologies in the future.
Want to know more about this project? Feel free to contact us!