Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Biological Systems Engineering Agricultural Automation Engineering

Adding Washington State to the California-Dutch AgFoodTech

August 13, 2019  |  California Dutch AgFoodTech Collaboration Update #17

The summer vacation period was in between the last newsletter in July and this one. We used this period to prepare important next steps for the project. One of these steps was adding Washington State to the initiative, Peter Frans de Jong of Wageningen University & Research and Marcel van Haren visited Washington State and California to further specify next steps in the so called collective CAWADU project for fruit orchard automation.

The first week of our visit we got to know the Washington State fruit sector very well, thanks to great help of Washington State University (WSU) and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. The picture is taken at the WSU extension in Prosser (WA) where Peter Frans and Marcel had the pleasure to present about Fruit 4.0, FME and AgriFoodTech Platform for a large group of students and other interested people…

Read the article: Adding Washington State to the collaboration, 2019, California Dutch AgFoodTech Collaboration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who are you going to call? Rotbusters!

August 29, 2019  |  Capital Press

SankarinIf potato farmers worry about storage losses, they might want to call “Rotbusters.”That’s the name Sindhuja Sankaran uses to explain her work using sensors to detect storage diseases like pythium and soft rot at early stages, even before their symptoms become visible.

Sankaran is an associate professor in the WSU Department of Biological Systems Engineering.

She says the sensors “smell” differences in potatoes that a disease emits. For example, a farmer might use a portable sensor to scan different areas of his potato storage. If the sensor detects a certain marker compound produced by rot or another disease, it triggers an alarm. That allows farmers to address the problem before it grows…

Read the Full Article : Western Innovator: Sensors ‘smell’ plant diseases, 2019, Capital Press

 

 

 

 

 

New global fellowship program grows discoveries, partnerships in ag research

September 3, 2019  |  CAHNRS News

Now being piloted at WSU, a 12-week fellowship program is the first of its kind to be offered through CGIAR, formerly known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. Sponsored by the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service and modeled on the USDA’s well-established Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program, the new program brings early and mid-career researchers from five CGIAR centers around the globe to WSU, promoting agricultural productivity, food security, and economic growth through collaborative research.

Milton Valencia joined the lab of Sindhuja Sankaran, a Biological Systems Engineering researcher studying how sensor technology can aid plant breeding, crop research, and precision agriculture. “CGIAR Borlaug Fellowships are a starting point for international collaboration,” said Sankaran. “We’re learning from Milton, and he is learning from us.”

Prospective fellows are chosen for their research interests, achievements and potential, then recruited and matched with mentors by WSU’s Office of International Programs. Mentors later make a return visit to their fellow’s home country to help foster continuing discoveries. “Visiting fellows become part of the scientific community on campus,” said Colleen Taugher, Associate Director for Global Research & Engagement at WSU. “Through the CGIAR Fellowship program, we’ve brought some very promising scientists to WSU and are expecting strong outcomes.”

Read the Article : New global fellowship program grows discoveries, partnerships in ag research, 2019, CAHNRS News

 

 

 

 

 

WSU’s Ag Tech Day – 1:30-6:00 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 22, in Prosser, Washington.

August 13, 2019  |  WSU Insider

Experts from WSU, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, Microsoft FarmBeats and ASI Robots will share updates on cutting-edge agricultural advances with growers, agricultural industry professionals, and crop consultants.

This year’s event explores the theme of automation in specialty crop production, and includes field demonstrations and discussions of digital agriculture solutions, automation in farm operations, robotics in specialty crops, intelligent orchard sprayers, a survey of autonomy on the farm, and regulations on the use of autonomous vehicles in Washington farming.

Read the article : Tech Day explores automation in specialty crops, 2019, WSU Insider.

 

 

 

 

 

Precision pruning can help machines safely, efficiently harvest apples

July 9, 2019  |  WSU Insider

With more apples to pick than any other state—more than 2.5 million tons every year—Washington apple producers have a growing desire to put labor-saving machines to work at harvest.

Sharing new discoveries on how precise pruning could support a labor-saving mechanical harvesting technique, scientists at Washington State University have won an award for their research from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

Read the article : Precision pruning can help machines, 2019, WSU Insider.

 

 

 

 

 

Satellites and Drones Search for Better Wheat Varieties to Feed the World

May 29, 2019  |   WSU Insider

WSU researchers are using satellites and drones to search for better wheat varieties to feed a growing world. The team launched a new project this spring, developing techniques that allow satellites and drones to identify and study wheat varieties from overhead. This research is funded by a USDA-NIFA grant.

The team looks to speed up research toward identifying better, more productive wheat varieties.  If successful it will give growers powerful new tools to improve farming. Wheat currently feeds more than 1/3rd of the human population and is grown on more acres than any other crop. To meet the growing worldwide demand and stay ahead of pests, pathogens and a changing environment, wheat breeders strive to develop improved varieties. Phenotyping (measuring the way plant genes are expressed physically) allows selection of the best plants to breed for improved yield, grain quality and disease resistance. Machines can sense crop traits faster. With modern satellite imagery matched together with drones, visual and infrared imagery can be collected from wheat plots. Drone cameras can collect data with the hope that this matching process will enable identification of wheat varieties from orbit.

Part of the project’s challenge is to learn whether wheat varieties and their physical characteristics can be differentiated by their spectral data. “Sensors are getting better every day,” said team member Sindhuja Sankaran, an associate professor and sensor technology researcher at WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering. “As resolution increases and camera costs drop, we have more powerful tools to sense how crops are performing.” Improved sensors will help to speed up the selection of new varieties, as well as help predict yields, monitor crop performance and protect plants from drought.

Read the Article : Images from space could help farmers grow better wheat varieties. WSU Insider

 

 

 

 

 

Artificial intelligence and precision farming: does efficiency mean sustainability?

May 28, 2019  |   filling-space.com

  • How does artificial intelligence-powered precision farming affect food sustainability?

This is a question that Filling Space.com asked their panel of experts, including Sindhuja Sankaran, an Agricultural Automation Engineering specialist from Washington State University’s Biological Systems Engineering Department.

Sankaran says, “For us, artificial intelligence serves as a key tool that assists in the application of sensor technology for phenotyping applications. Given the natural variability in plants, the thousands of crop varieties evaluated, and advancements in sensor technology (e.g. hyperspectral imaging system), it is impossible to identify patterns and evaluate plant traits without the application of artificial intelligence techniques… we use these methods to contribute to machine-guided informed selection of varieties, thus contributing to sustainability.”

Read the Article : Artificial intelligence and precision farming: does efficiency mean sustainability?, 2019, Filling-space.com

 

 

 

 

 

Western Innovator: From Nepal to Robotic Pioneer

May 12, 2019  |  Salem, OR

Some 30 years ago, he was a lad tending rice, sugarcane, goats and other crops on his family’s subsistence farm in the mid-hill region of Bhojpur, Nepal.

Last December, Manoj Karkee (pronounced Maw-nose Car-key) was among 11 U.S. and Canadian professors named 2019 pioneers in artificial intelligence and the internet by Connected World, a business and technology publication.

Karkee, 41, is an associate professor in the Biological Systems Engineering Department at Washington State University. He leads a staff of 12 in the Agricultural Automation and Robotics Laboratory at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser.

Read the Paper : Western Innovator: From Nepal to robotic pioneer, 2019, Capital Press.

 

 

 

 

 

2019 ASABE Superior Paper Award – Congratulations!

May 9, 2019  |  Pullman, WA

The team of Qin Zhang, Xin Zhang, Long He, Yaqoob Majeed, Matthew D. Whiting and Manoj Karkee have been selected to receive a 2019 ASABE Superior Paper Award.
This group will be honored at the General Session Recognition Program during the ASABE Annual International Meeting on July 8th, 2019 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.

  • Qin Zhang – Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering and Director, Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, Washington State University, Prosser, WA.
  • Xin Zhang – Graduate Student in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering and Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, Washington State University, Prosser, WA.
  • Long He – Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Fruit Research and Extension Center, Pennsylvania State University, Biglerville, PA.
  • Yaqoob Majeed – Graduate Student in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering and Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, Washington State University, Prosser, WA.
  • Matthew D. Whiting – Professor in the Department of Horticulture, Washington State University, Prosser, WA.
  • Manoj Karkee – Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering and Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, Washington State University, Prosser, WA.

Read the Paper : A Precision Pruning Strategy for Improving Efficiency of Vibratory Mechanical Harvesting of Apples, 2018, Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 61(5): 1565-1576.

 

 

 

 

 

Spray Researchers Aim to Catch Their Drift

February 15, 2019  |  Good Fruit Grower

Lav Khot, left, and Rakesh Ranjan collect sample cards and foliar sprigs during a trial in November. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)Against the gray, late-autumn sky, it’s hard to miss the green plume spraying into the dormant orchard.

It’s a very colorful solution to a nearly invisible problem.

Underlying every pesticide label regulation lie complex calculations of risk to protect workers, bystanders and the environment from drift. But the methods federal regulators use to determine drift allowances from airblast sprayers date back decades — and likely overestimate the risk in modern orchards.

“All the restrictions and statements on labels are based on a set of assumptions of a worst-case scenario,” said Washington State University extension specialist Gwen Hoheisel. “If we could have a better estimate and the worst-case scenario is not actually as bad as it’s currently estimated, it could lead to less restrictive labels.”

That’s why Hoheisel, WSU agricultural engineer Lav Khot and a team of research associates were eager to watch the path of that fluorescent green cloud from the airblast sprayer. To the naked eye, little drift beyond the orchard block could be seen. However, dozens of drift samplers transecting up to 600 feet across the adjacent field were poised to catch and measure any particles that reached them.

Continue Reading on Good Fruit Grower

 

Read the Full Article on Good Fruit Grower: Spray researchers aim to catch their drift

 

 

 

 

 

Washington State University