Precision farming in crop and livestock production

Photo: ATB

Researching for a sustainable primary production

The research program is dedicated to site-specific sustainable intensification in the area of primary agricultural production all the way to harvesting.

Our research ranges from a comprehensive online data collection to modelling and process control. Technological and process engineering tasks include sensor-based technologies for precision farming and precision horticulture, the modelling of emissions and of the microclimate in naturally ventilated barn systems as well as the interaction between housing environment and animal welfare. The system assessment is analysing interactions and effects in relation to environment and economy. Here, we concentrate on nitrogen, greenhouse gases and water.

One focus of our research is to develop and apply sensors for assessing the condition of soils, plants and animals. Information on system parameters such as nutrient supply, plant growth, disease pressure, climatic conditions, water demand, respiratory rate, heat stress, fruit ripeness or others  can be recorded. Information collected in-situ integrates into the development of complex physiological and physical models. Online analysis is an essential element of individual and flexible process control. 

Precision crop production

Crop production is of central importance for the bio-economy: plant biomass not only provides food and animal feed, but is also the basis for bio-based materials and energy.

The global sustainability goals outline the current challenges for precision crop production: to increase productivity while using natural resources in a sustainable manner, to preserve biodiversity, ecosystems, soil fertility and natural habitats, to reduce the impact of invasive species and to ensure that chemicals are managed in an environmentally sound manner.

We are thus working on solutions for sensor-supported local resource management in precision agriculture and precision horticulture. The aim of our research is to increase the efficiency of plant production, in particular by means of adaptive process control and the development of technical solutions for individualized plant production, thus reducing consumption of natural resources, the use of chemicals and of emissions.

Innovative sensor technologies are opening up new possibilities in the field of data acquisition (information and communication technology, telemetry and robotics), processing (Big Data) and analysis of data (genomics, phenomics and bioinformatics). They are fundamental tools in the digital transformation process that agriculture is facing. The information obtained is used to develop complex physiological and physical models that enable precise control of production processes in the sense of a sustainable intensification.

Livestock Management

Animal husbandry concepts should integrate the three pillars of sustainability - environment, society and economy. Solutions have to be found in the area of conflicting interests. While the public's desire for improved animal welfare and more environmental protection is growing, the economic imperatives for the survival of farmers must also be taken into account to ensure that innovative processes can find their way into practice.

We therefore focus our application-oriented basic research in animal husbandry on the improvement of animal welfare, housing environment, animal and environmental protection and on maintaining economic competitiveness. Our goals are: objective animal welfare standards, concepts for solving environmental conflicts, transparent animal husbandry, consumer acceptance and added value from a regional production.

Program coordination

Prof. UZ, Dr. Amon, Barbara

Scientist; Program coordinator RP Precision agriculture

Department: Technology Assessment and Substance Cycles


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