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Biological Systems Engineering Agricultural Automation Engineering

Agricultural robots combine future, farming practices

October 26, 2018  |  Pullman, WA  |  Daily Evergreen

Manoj Karkee and Suraj Amatya evaluate a fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicleIn a partnership with the University of Technology Sydney in Australia, WSU scientists are working to create agricultural robots to help local farmers and industries maintain and harvest crops efficiently.

The partnership started on Sept. 24, said Manoj Karkee, an assistant professor in the biological systems engineering department at WSU. Both universities will exchange students, which allows them to work in different labs and use different robotic systems. [Continue reading on the Daily Evergreen]

 

 

Story continues on the Daily Evergreen: Agricultural robots combine future, farming practices

WSU, Australian scientists partner to form Joint Center for Ag Robotics

October 1, 2018  |  Pullman, WA

By Scott Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resources Sciences

 

Students with DroneTo speed robotic advancements that help farmers grow food with fewer resources, scientists at Washington State University and Australia’s University of Technology Sydney have partnered to form the new Joint Center for Agricultural Robotics.

The first collaboration of its kind for WSU’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems (CPAAS), the partnership joins WSU scientists’ expertise in innovative automation solutions for farms and orchards with pre-eminent research in robotics at the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Centre for Autonomous Systems.

 

[Read more on the WSU Insider: WSU, Australian scientists partner to form Joint Center for Ag Robotics]

 

BSE Faculty Receive USDA-NIFA Funding to Study Water Use

September 24, 2018  |  Pullman, WA

 

rotating irrigation system in fieldBiological Systems Engineering Faculty Claudio Stockle, Troy Peters, and Lav Khot received USDA-NIFA Funding as part of the State of the Washington Water Research Center (WRC) project titled “Technology for trade: new tools and new rules for water use efficiency in agriculture and beyond.

 

 

Read more about the project on the WSU News Story: Research to help water flow more freely to farms, fish, people and the Washington Water Research Center: Technology for trade: new tools and new rules for water use efficiency in agriculture and beyond.

 

BSE Faculty Receive 2018 WSDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Awards

September 21, 2018  |  Pullman, WA

 

Biological Systems Engineering Faculty Lav Khot and Manoj Karkee received Washington State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Awards.

 

Lav Khot’s project titled “Alternative pest management technologies for tree fruit and wine grapes” was awarded $249,088.

Abstract: This WSU team, with agricultural engineering, viticulture, plant pathology and entomology expertise, will investigate use of horticultural oil thermotherapy (HOT) and ozonated water sprayer (OWS) applications for effective control of indicator pest and disease species in pear and wine grapes. Both are novel ways to transform commonly-accepted low-risk materials (oil, ozonated water) for improved pest and disease control with minimal chemical residue levels needed for export market. Our project aligns with environmental stewardship goals of using methodologies and products that have minimal off-target impacts and reduced chemical inputs. It bolsters available toolkit for organic pest management, while being equally viable in conventional and IPM-based programs .Our specific project objectives are:(1)to transform our existing laboratory-scale HOT sprayer into a field-appropriate prototype and optimization for pear psyllid, and grape mealybug and powdery mildew control;(2) to evaluate a commercially available OWS to control the above indicator pest and disease species; and (3) to engage local manufacturers to build and distribute these technologies as well as conduct extensive Extension to increase the rate of technology adoption. Objective 1 activities include:(i) HOT sprayer prototyping, (ii) evaluate its application accuracy within different canopy regions of trellised grape and large pear canopies, and (iii) assess control of indicator pest and disease species through field trials. Objective 2 activities include:(i) optimization of OWS, and (ii) bioassay-based mortality assessments with field evaluations. Objective 3 activities will focus on early engagement with growers and equipment manufacturers for meaningful outreach education of field optimized technologies.

 

Manoj Karkee’s project titled ” Precise Mechanical Solution for Vineyard Shoot Thinning” was awarded $195,232.

Abstract: This proposal is submitted by Washington State University. We propose to develop an automated solution for green shoot thinning in wine grapes. Currently, there is about 55,000 acres of wine grapes and about 900 licensed wineries in Washington with ~$5 billion economic impact to the state. Green shoot thinning, an operation to remove some of the shoots from vine cordons, is used to improve spacing and direction of shoot growth, which is essential to create healthy and productive canopies as it improves light penetration and air movement in the canopies. This operation is highly labor-intensive, costing growers >$265/acre/year. Machine thinning can reduce the cost to about ~$10/acre. However, currently available shoot thinners lack desired level of precision and speed, and require skilled operators. Our goal is to develop an automated system for precise positioning of thinning heads of a mechanical thinner. To achieve this goal, we will focus on developing; i) a machine vision system to estimate cordon/trunk location and shoot density; ii) a prototype, pneumatic shoot thinner capable of quickly adjusting thinning roller position for precise removal of target shoots; and iii) an integrated, automated thinning machine and evaluate it in the vineyard environment. By the end of the project, it is expected that our prototype and field validation study will provide sufficient data and information for companies to develop and commercialize the machine. Commercial adoption of this technology will reduce farm labor use and production cost, resulting in a substantial benefit to Washington wine grape industry.

 

Read More on the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Ag Briefs Page and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Awards Abstract Page.

 

 

WSU’s apple picking machine provides potential for future orchard operations

August 27, 2018  |  Tri-Cities, WA

 

Apple season is here; and did you know a person can pick about 30 apples per minute? But, WSU’s new machine can pick those apples in about a second.

The apple picking machine was created by students and faculty at Washington State University. It can be found in a garage while some improvements are made to it. The program is all headed by Dr. Manoj Karkee, an associate professor at WSU.

 

Read more about the project on NBC Right Now: WSU’s apple picking machine provides potential for future orchard operations

 

BSE Faculty and Students Attend ASABE 2018 – Student Wins First Place Award

BSE at ASABE 2018 August 1, 2018  |  Detroit, MI

Faculty and Graduate Students from Biological Systems Engineering attended the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) 2018 Annual Meeting. The event took place  July 29, 2018 – August 01, 2018 in Detroit Michigan.

BSE Faculty included Lav Khot, Troy Peters, Juming TangManoj Karkee, Sindhuja Sankaran, and Qin Zhang.

WSU alumnus Dr. Norman Scott was also in attendance.

 

More information about the meeting can be found on the ASABE Annual Meeting 2018 Website

 

 

Kapil Khanal with ASABE Award

In addition, BSE Master’s student Kapil Khanal (advised by BSE faculty member Dr. Manoj Karkee) won the first place Boyd-Scott Graduate Research Award for his research titled “Red Raspberry Bundling and Taping Mechanism.”

More information on the Boyd-Scott Graduate Research Award can be found on the ASABE Webiste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WSU Faculty, Dr. Lav Khot, Presents at 2017 APS Annual Meeting in San Antonio

Dr. Lav R. Khot
State-of-the-art on Sensing Technologies for Plant Disease Detection

Lav Khot, Assistant Professor,
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
IAREC, Washington State University

APS Annual Meeting 2017 website headerBrief description: Site-specific disease detection is one of the key aspects of effective crop (loss) management. Recent advances in detectors (optical, chemical) have improved feasibility of development and use of rapid non-contact/nondestructive sensing techniques in plant diseases detection. Advances in versatile ground-, aerial-platforms, and internet of things (IOT)-enabled data acquisition, in-field onboard processing, and near-real-time delivery techniques have also helped in easing logical concerns, about time and labor, of field level crop scouting. This talk will thus focus on state-of-the art in the field of chemical and optical sensors, platforms (e.g. small and mid-sized unmanned aerial systems), and IOT based technologies that could be an aid in rapid disease detection. Through case studies in specialty crops, the talk will discuss the feasibility of the technology in field level disease detection as well as challenges that need further research before its commercial use.

[ more information about the Annual Meeting ]

 

Washington State Professor Finds Sky-high Opportunities for Drones in Agriculture

February 27, 2017  |  Washington Farm Bureau

Many farmers and ranchers are already benefitting from drone technology, but the work of researchers like Dr. Lav Khot is showing that we’ve only scratched the surface of what this relatively new technology can do for agriculture. Khot works for Washington State University’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems and in the agricultural automation engineering research emphasis area of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. [ full article on Farm Bureau site ]

Plant biologists welcome their robot overlords

Old-school areas of plant biology are getting tech upgrades that herald more detailed, faster data collection.

January 25, 2017 |by Heidi Ledford, Nature – International Weekly Journal of Science

drone flying over cropAt Washington State University in Pullman, biological engineer Sindhuja Sankaran’s lab is preparing to deploy drones carrying lidar, the laser equivalent of radar. The system will scan agricultural fields to gather data on plant height and the density of leaves and branches. Sankaran also uses sensors to measure the volatile chemicals that plants give off, particularly when they are under attack from insects or disease. She hopes eventually to mount the sensors on robots.

[ full article at Nature.com ]