Published on 13/05/2024
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Aston University scientist to help make crop monitoring easier and cheaper

 

  • Photonics expert Dr Sergey Sergeyev to help make crop monitoring easier and cheaper with remote sensing
  • The technology can be placed on drones and flown over crop fields to provide real-time information about crop health
  • Remote sensing is an essential tool to provide real-time information about crops to estimate yields. 

An Aston University photonics expert has received a Royal Society Industry Fellowship grant to help make crop monitoring easier and cheaper with remote sensing technology.

Dr Sergey Sergeyev of Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) has received £174,000 to improve polarimetric LIDAR, a technology that uses light to remotely observe plants.

LiDAR, an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging, involves light sent from a transmitter which is reflected from objects. Devices with this technology can be placed on drones and flown over crop fields to provide real-time information about crop health to help farmers forecast the success of their crops. 

Polarimetric synthetic-aperture radars (SARs) and polarimetric LiDARs are the most advanced, cost-effective sensors for crop monitoring. They are often used onboard aircraft and satellites and have been in use for three decades.

However, current polarimetric LIDAR systems have low spatial resolution, a slow measurement speed and use expensive components that limit their cost effectiveness.

Dr Sergeyev will be working in collaboration with Salford-based digital and AI farming company Fotenix to meet farmers' need for a cost-effective solution to check if their plants are adequately watered and disease-free.
The team will aim to advance recently patented AIPT technology of the polarimetric LIDAR, making it affordable for farmers in the UK and worldwide.

The project, called POLIDAR, will run from 2024 to 2025. 

Dr Sergeyev said: “Aston University’s patented technique will be modified by using a laser emitting four time-delayed pulse trains with different states of polarisation. By comparing the input states of polarisation and states of polarisation of light reflected from plants, it will reveal information about the distance to plants and plants' leaf texture, such as water stress and pathogen infection. Unlike state-of-the-art solutions we suggest an all-fibre design with a minimum number of bulk components that reduces the footprint, cost and weight.

Dr Sergeyev added: “My project's motivation is driven by the global and UK agenda on increased food production, requiring novel remote sensing approaches towards ICT farming. 

“As declared at the World Summit on Food Security in 2017, the growth in the world's population requires increased and more efficient agricultural production. 

“Remote sensing is an essential tool to systematically address the challenging task of enhanced agricultural efficiency by providing real-time information about crop traits for yield estimation.”

The announcement coincides with UNESCO Day of Light which marks the role light plays in science, culture and art, education and sustainable development. It is held on 16 May every year, the anniversary of the first successful operation of a laser.
 

Notes to editors

 
World Summit on Food Security in 2017 The future of food and agriculture: Trends and challenges (fao.org) https://www.fao.org/3/i6583e/i6583e.pdf

UNESCO Day of Light
The International Day of Light is a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy. The broad theme of light will allow many different sectors of society worldwide to participate in activities that demonstrates how science, technology, art and culture can help achieve the goals of UNESCO – education, equality, and peace.
The International Day of Light is held on May 16th every year, the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman. The laser is a perfect example of how a scientific discovery can yield revolutionary benefits to society in communications, healthcare and many other fields.


About Aston University
For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.
Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.
Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.
Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.
For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7825 342091 or email: n.jones6@aston.ac.uk
 

 

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