A new type of imaging system for use in agriculture, designed to be far less expensive than existing technology and to increase crop yield, is being developed in a partnership between academics and industry.
Academics at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), the University of Strathclyde (UoS) and the James Hutton Institute (JHI), led by Glasgow based product design firm Wideblue, have teamed up to develop a new type of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) system. The UK government-funded collaboration has the potential to introduce an affordable spectral imaging technology to help agricultural businesses monitor and maximise crop production in fields and greenhouses.
The sensors in development are expected to be up to 90% cheaper than equivalent equipment currently on the market and have the potential to make high resolution spectral imaging technology significantly more accessible to the agricultural sector and beyond.
The team’s HSI system, which is being manufactured by Wideblue, uses UWS-designed ‘linear variable optical filters’ to disperse light reflecting from plants into specific wavelengths and colours. This spectral image data is subsequently captured and analysed using sophisticated data processing software, designed by UoS, to provide a number of key indicators to farmers on the conditions of crops.
It is anticipated that adopting the technology will allow farmers to monitor various crop attributes including plant health, hydration levels and disease indicators. As a result, it is envisaged that farmers will be able to: optimise the impact of fertilisation; save water by employing more efficient irrigation methods; and, critically, spot diseases and infestations at an earlier stage, allowing them to avoid blights.