Spanish scientists have designed a mechanism that by simulating human sight generates 3D maps of agricultural land, as well as a system that can apply herbicides only on those plots where they are needed.
Both innovations have been put forward by researchers from the UPV (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia) and the UCM (Universidad Complutense of Madrid), respectively, and are within the field of Precision Agriculture, a new discipline that tries to optimise farm management from an agronomic, economic and environmental point of view.
The methodology used to produce the three-dimensional maps, published recently in the Computers and Electronics in Agriculture journal, has been developed by Francisco Rovira Más from the department of Mechanisation and Agrarian Technology of the UPV, together with scientists from the University of Illinois (USA). Rovira explains to SINC that global maps are essential in Precision Agriculture, i.e. maps that use GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) techniques, with the traditional East and North co-ordinates. His team proposes to add a third dimension, altitude, and a level of detail “only attainable by means of local positioning systems that use cameras”.
In order to create these three-dimensional maps, a stereoscopic camera and sensors providing localisation and orientation data for the vehicle are installed by the researchers in a farm vehicle (a tractor or combine-harvester, for example). The images obtained by the camera are those that simulate human sight, as they enable at least two different simultaneous images to be obtained. When they are compared the distance at which the objects that appear within the field of vision of the camera can be estimated. “If the objects are very far away from the camera, they will occupy practically the same position in both images, but if they are near the camera, the differences will be greater”, explains Rovira Más.
With respect to the sensors, a GPS localisation sensor is used that allows the vehicle to be situated in real time within the system of co-ordinates, together with a sensor called “an inertial measurement unit”, to estimate their positions and speeds, as well as their gradient.
The scenes of the area captured by the camera are transformed into information that generates 3D point clouds. “The huge quantity of data these clouds involve, together with the lack of precision of the sensors, are the main challenges to overcome”, says the researcher. Moreover, he adds, the global maps give a plethora of information in real time for applications such as automatic guided vehicles, an improvement in safety measures, the monitoring of the increase in harvests or the planning of agricultural tasks according to local conditioning and climate factors (temperature, humidity, wind, quality of the soil, size and plant variety, historic yield data, etc.)
Herbicide only where it is needed
Moreover in Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, and other journals, such as Pattern Recognition, a new proposal has been published about Precision Agriculture focusing on the selective use of herbicides. Gonzalo Pajares, a lecturer in the Department of Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence at the Faculty of Information Technology at the UCM, and one of the authors of the study, explains that this involves an intelligent system “based on the computerised vision to identify areas infested with weeds that require treatment with herbicides”.
The procedure is based on the analysis of the digital image sequences, captured by camera, of the field that is going to be treated. The method involves two stages: The division of the images into field parcels, and the decision about which of the parcels must be sprayed or not, and in what quantity. The choice is achieved by using Artificial Intelligence processes, that is to say “multi-attribute decision making”, a mathematical technique that enables a choice to be made between two finite alternatives. “This allows for doses of herbicides to be applied only in those fields where they are really needed", the researcher clarifies. At the moment, these phytosanitary products are applied indiscriminately to fields, regardless of whether they are needed or not.
The system thought up by the information technologists has been tried successfully in the cultivation of cereal and maize in the La Poveda research station in Arganda del Rey (Madrid), property of the CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) (Spanish National Research Council). This government agency has promoted the development of the study through the Institutes known as the Instituto de Automática Industrial (Institute of Industrial Automation) and the |Instituto de Ciencias Medioambientales (Institute of Environmental Sciences). The results obtained represent a saving of over 80% in treatment with herbicides, which translates into a considerable reduction in costs. Pajares says, “and what is more important, there is also a reduction in pollution of the environment” without there being any repercussions on the productivity of the land.
The studies about Precision Agriculture, such as the two proposed by the Spanish researchers, enables farming tasks such as spraying with herbicides, sowing and the use of fertilisers, to be planned in a more efficient and sustainable way. These studies put forward the use of new technologies in order to optimise farm work, but do not forget the existence of the changeable nature of the land, something farmers have known about since time began.
Sinc Team | alfa
Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy