Advanced technologies for efficient crop management: a participatory approach with application at farm scale

Project Details


Changing climate, variable yields, and resource constraints are challenging UK agriculture and global food security. Our goal is to enhance sustainable and efficient production for two crops of major importance in the UK, wheat and potatoes. We will work with farmers and end users in the application and deployment of novel crop sensing and diagnostic technologies. We will develop a tool that can predict and diagnose crop response to water and nutrient related limits. In turn, this knowledge will guide crop management and help to inform stakeholders from across the arable supply chain about the best approaches for land management towards more sustainable and efficient production, using precision agriculture.
We will test remote sensing technologies and couple them with methods for analysing crop and soil processes. We will deploy sensors at farm sites on fixed towers and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and compare these against satellite sensors with global coverage. We will evaluate whether changes in leaf temperature, fluorescence and reflectance are related to yield reductions, comparing sensor data against field measurements of plant growth, yield and ecophysiology, and plant and soil temperature and moisture. We will understand how, and under what circumstances, sensors and platforms can be employed to determine and diagnose crop yield limits. Links to simulation process modelling will provide a rich set of diagnostics related to the plant-soil system, and forecast its sensitivity to management changes. Data assimilation approaches will allow model updates and improvements based on field observations and sensor output, to generate more reliable, near real-time and robust analyses.
Our technologies will underpin a crop diagnostic system, indicating crop water and nutrient status, quantifying reductions to yield, that can be used at sub-field to farm scale, with a clear quantification of reliability. Working with farmers, our technologies will be combined to generate a decision support tool, with capacity for (i) immediate (near-real time) mapping of crop stress, and its likely impact on crop yield and (ii) providing detailed spatial information on optimal management interventions to support decision making for sustainable high yield.
This work directly addresses a priority of the UK research councils to support UK farming with high quality and practical research to support consistent high returns from crop production against a background of changing climate and increasingly competitive global markets. Our deliverables will provide advanced diagnostics for farmers, and guide cost effective strategies for water and nutrient management for consistent yield.
Effective start/end date1/12/1630/11/20


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


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