Home » Aston University Gets Funding for Crop Remote Sensing

Aston University Gets Funding for Crop Remote Sensing

by Victor Adeyemi
  • Dr. Sergey Sergeyev, a photonics expert, is making crop monitoring easier and cheaper through remote sensing.
  • The technology can be mounted on drones and flown over crop fields to give real-time information about the health of the crops.
  • Such remote sensing is essential for estimating crop yields by giving real-time crop data.

An expert in photonics, Dr. Sergey Sergeyev from Aston University, has received a £174,000 grant from the Royal Society to help make crop monitoring easier and more affordable using remote sensing technology.

The funding will help him enhance a technology called polarimetric LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which uses light to remotely observe and monitor crops from a distance. Mounted on drones, LIDAR can give farmers real-time data on crop health to forecast yields.

Furthermore, polarimetric synthetic-aperture radars (SARs) and polarimetric LIDAR are sophisticated yet cost-effective crop monitoring sensors. For around 30 years now, they’ve been employed on aircraft and satellites to observe agricultural lands. 

However, current polarimetric LIDAR systems have low spatial resolution (ability to distinguish details), slow measurement speed, and use expensive components, which makes them less cost-effective.

Dr. Sergeyev will be working together with Fotenix, a digital and AI farming company based in Salford, to meet farmers’ need for an affordable solution to check if their plants are getting enough water and are free from diseases.

The team will aim to improve a recently patented AIPT technology for polarimetric LIDAR, making it more affordable for farmers in the UK and around the world.

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

Dr. Sergeyev explained that Aston University’s patented method will be modified by using a laser emitting polarized light pulses at different times. Comparing the input and reflected light polarization from plants, will provide data on plant distance, leaf texture, water stress, and disease. Unlike current solutions, their proposed all-fiber design minimizes components, reduces size, cost, and weight.

Dr. Sergeyev added: “My project’s motivation comes from the global and UK agenda to increase food production, which requires new remote sensing approaches for precision farming.

“As stated 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 enhancing agricultural efficiency by providing real-time information about crop traits for yield estimation.”

The announcement coincides with UNESCO Day of Light, celebrated on May 16th each year. This day marks the role of light in science, culture, art, education, and sustainable development. It’s also the anniversary of the first time a laser ever worked!

About Aston University 

Aston University was founded in 1895. For more than 125 years, the university has aimed to make the world better through education, research, and innovation. The goal of the institution is to help students succeed in their careers and life, and to support local communities to thrive economically, socially, and culturally.

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