Posted in | News | Agricultural Robotics

POLIDAR: A Simple and Cheap Crop Monitoring Technology

Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) researcher Dr. Sergey Sergeyev has been awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship to facilitate easier and cheaper crop monitoring with remote sensing technology. 

Dr. Sergeyev has been awarded £174,000 to enhance polarimetric LIDAR, a device that utilizes light to monitor plants remotely.

LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, uses light emitted from a transmitter and reflected off objects. This technology allows devices to be mounted on drones and flown over fields, giving farmers real-time information on crop health and assisting them in predicting crop success.

Polarimetric synthetic aperture radars (SARs) and polarimetric LiDARs are the most modern and cost-effective crop monitoring devices. They have been used on aircraft and satellites for three decades.

However, existing polarimetric LIDAR systems have poor spatial resolution, slow measurement speeds, and expensive components, limiting their cost-effectiveness.

Dr. Sergeyev will collaborate with Fotenix, a Salford-based digital and AI farming startup, to provide farmers with a cost-effective method for determining if their plants are appropriately watered and disease-free.

The team will work to enhance the recently patented AIPT technology of the polarimetric LIDAR, making it more affordable for farmers in the UK and worldwide.

The POLIDAR project is scheduled to operate from 2024 to 2025.

Aston University’s patented technique will be modified by using a laser emitting four time-delayed pulse trains with different states of polarization. By comparing the input states of polarization and states of polarization 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-fiber design with a minimum number of bulk components that reduces the footprint, cost, and weight.

Dr. Sergey Sergeyev, Associate Professorial Research Fellow, Aston University

He 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 the UNESCO Day of Light, which commemorates the significance of light in science, culture, art, education, and sustainable development. It is celebrated every year on May 16th, the anniversary of the first successful laser operation.


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