Aston University aim to make crop monitoring easier and cheaper

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A grant has been awarded to Dr Sergey Sergeyev of Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) to aid their research into crop monitoring.

The Royal Society Industry Fellowship grant of £174,000 will be used to improve polarimetric LIDAR technology to provide growers with real-time information about crop health.

Current systems using this technology are reported to have a low spatial resolution, slow measurement speed and use expensive components which make them less cost-effective.

Sergey will work in collaboration with Salford-based digital and AI farming company Fotenix to meet farmers’ needs for a cost-effective solution. The project – called POLIDAR – will run from 2024 to 2025.

He said: “Aston University’s patented technique will be modified by using a laser emitting four time-delayed pulse trains with different states of polarisation. By comparing the input states of polarisation and states of polarisation of light reflected from plants, it will reveal information about the distance to plants and plants’ leaf texture, such as water stress and pathogen infection.

“Unlike state-of-the-art solutions we suggest an all-fibre design with a minimum number of bulk components that reduces the footprint, cost and weight.

“My project’s motivation is driven by the global and UK agenda on increased food production, requiring novel remote sensing approaches towards ICT farming.

“As declared at the World Summit on Food Security in 2017, the growth in the world’s population requires increased and more efficient agricultural production.

“Remote sensing is an essential tool to systematically address the challenging task of enhanced agricultural efficiency by providing real-time information about crop traits for yield estimation.”

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