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Kostas Test 2

This is a test Innovation report

ThirdEye: Flying Sensors to support farmers’ decision making

Farmers are confronted more and more with the consequences of climate change. Water shortages, higher temperatures, shifting seasons, more extreme events, amongst others, pose a threat to crop production by amplified droughts, heat stresses, and diseases. Farmers are therefore looking for improved real-time information of their current crop status and forecasts to support their decision making.

Developed by FutureWater

Flying Sensors, sometimes referred to as drones, provide high resolution information on crop status. Our innovation provides this information at: (i) an ultra-high spatial resolution, (ii) an unprecedentedly flexibility in location and timing, (iii) a spectrum outside the human eye. The latter is very important since this information shows potential threats to crops such as droughts, diseases, fertilizer stress, about 10-days earlier compared to the human eye observation.

TRL6. Prototype system verified
Technology demonstrated in relevant environment. Representative model or prototype system, which is well beyond that of TRL 5, is tested in a relevant environment. Represents a major step up in a technology’s demonstrated readiness. Examples include testing a prototype in a high-fidelity laboratory environment or in a simulated operational environment. The Flying Sensor approach information has been tested, validated and demonstrated the different components of the system at very different boundary conditions and in the frame of different projects (REDSIM, GEISEQ, DMIAT, ThirdEye – see FutureWater website for details). The current innovation integrates these components into one single service which has been validated and demostrated at different test sites (i.e. experimental farms).

See more information about this level and the TRL and SRL levels.

The main components of the system have been tested separately, and an initial integration exercise has been conducted.

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Collaborators

How does it work?

Flying Sensors (drones) are equipped with high resolution cameras that collect information in the near-infrared spectrum. Compared to the human eye, crops stress can be seen in the near-infrared about 10 days earlier providing farmers ample time to respond. Special focus will be put on disease detection by looking at in-field scale variability and the evolution of a stress location over a couple of days. The latter will be done by innovative image analysis and forecast procedures.

Limitations/conditions under which this innovation does not work or is less effective

The Flying Sensor approach is relatively new and for some specific crops relationships between near infra-red information and crop stress (diseases, fertilizer, drought) might be less accurate. It is however expected that this will be resolved in few years by getting these relationships more accurate. Other limitation might be unfavorable weather conditions to use the Flying Sensors. In general a wind speed above 5-10 meter per second (Flying Sensors specific) is the main limiting factor.

Added value
The Flying Sensor approach is unique and can hardly be compared to any other existing crop information system. In summary the main features are: the ultrahigh resolution (1 cm), the flexibility in observation timing, the near infra-red detection so that crop stress is seen 10-days earlier compared to the human eye, and the innovative disease evolution detection.

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