A computer vision system to predict outbreaks of diseases such as botrytis and mildew in strawberry crops, has gained funding from a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
The joint project between fruit growers and preservers Wilkin & Sons and academic experts at the University of Essex aims to monitor and prevent disease. It is to use a drone to monitor the crop using computer vision and Internet of Things (IoT) with the goal of reducing inputs and improving yield.
Wilkin’s ambition is to innovate and become more productive in terms of yield for the strawberry growing arm of the business, while minimising any negative environmental impacts from their operations across their 850-acre farm.
Chris Newenham, Joint Managing Director of Wilkin & Sons, says the company is looking to enhance monitoring of disease within the crop through solutions which are currently not available ‘off-the-shelf’. University of Essex is home to experts in computer vision, hyperspectral analysis and plant physiology that will build a bespoke system to solve their business need.
Dr Hossein Anisi is Head of the Internet of Everything (IoE) Laboratory at the University of Essex. He says: “This interdisciplinary project gives us the opportunity to implement the latest techniques in IoT and wireless sensor networks using valuable, real world data.”
Computer vision system to predict disease risk
A full-time KTP Associate will be recruited and based at Wilkin’s Tiptree farm, to lead the research using cutting-edge hyperspectral analysis and computer vision technologies. They will be working with Wilkin’s farming General Manager to develop the novel disease monitoring and predication system.
Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement at the University of Essex, comments that the project to design a computer vision system to predict disease aligns with its ambition to deliver innovation across agriculture. “Essex has expertise in computer vision, embedded systems and plant science, as shown in the recent launch of EPIC – the Essex Plant Innovation Centre, which aims to harmonise the interdisciplinary challenges associated with embedding technology in this industry. I’m delighted to announce this award from Innovate UK to supercharge our ambition in this space.”