Electronics in Agriculture - e-Agri

e-Agri aims to inform the electronics community of the needs of modern agronomy and food science to enable engineering of new systems and devices for reducing waste, increasing yields and improving nutrition.

The westernisation of world diets is producing greater pressure on agriculture and many of the benefits of fertilisation, irrigation and seed selection have already been realised and a new impetus is required to deliver the necessary yield improvements. 

e-Agri believe this will come from sensor and ICT based control processes applied to agricultural processes. Integrating sensors, electronics, and ICT engineering into agriculture is a key enabler for delivering improved food supply and sustainable energy production.

Electronics in agriculture research addresses the needs and problems of all stakeholders in agriculture sector, from the farm to the shop: farmers and growers; seed and chemical providers; food logistics providers; agricultural machinery and equipment providers; food processors; suppliers and wholesalers; and retailers. For each of these stakeholder groups, technology offer benefits to improve practices, raise yields, reduce costs, raise profit margins, secure food supplies, and address the sustainability of the sector.

Research Focus 

The introduction of electronics in agriculture requires new academic partnerships to be fostered across the University and elsewhere. The activity is managed by a cross disciplinary, industry and academic steering team which will also be tasked with delivering the longer term e-Agri strategy.

The following areas are under development:

Sensing above the crop

  • Hyper-weeding: Tractor sensors for high speed detection and eradication of weeds
  • Crop disease detection for smallholder farmers
  • Wheatscan: Minimising carbon footprint with real-time hyperspectral mapping of protein in the crop 
  • SYield: Sensors to protect crop yield - networked bionsensors to mimic crop fungal pathogens and defend against disease 
  • Graphene biosensors to emulate the receptors in plant and insect cells 

Sensing below the roots

  • Low cost networked soil moisture sensors to dynamically map the fixtures in moisture across field 
  • Reusable nutrient sensors to control phosphates and nitrates in commercial hydroponic farming
  • Cheap hydrogel sensors for agriculturally available soil moisture
  • Electrical impedance tomography for in-situ 3D mapping nutrient uptake and soil architecture 

Sensing postharvest

  • Science behind 'sell by dates': Plastic electronic thermal sensors for printable RFIDs to track the perishable goods supply chain 
  • Non-invasive fruit grading and phenotyping using electromagnetic tomography 

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