Happy International Day of Mathematics! Mathematics plays a significant role in agricultural technology in several ways:
- Modeling crop growth: Mathematical models are used to simulate the growth of crops. These models use mathematical equations to represent the different factors that affect crop growth, such as temperature, rainfall, soil nutrients, and pests. By using these models, farmers can predict how their crops will grow under different conditions and make informed decisions about when to plant, irrigate, fertilise, and harvest.
- Precision agriculture: In precision agriculture, farmers use technology to apply inputs (such as water, fertiliser, and pesticides) precisely where they are needed. This technique relies heavily on mathematical models, data analytics, and sensors to measure and monitor different parameters, such as soil moisture, nutrient levels, and pest populations.
- Farm management: Farmers need to keep track of a lot of data, such as crop yields, soil characteristics, weather patterns, and market prices. Mathematical tools help them organise and analyse this data, make predictions, and optimise their operations.
- Genetics and breeding: Mathematics is also used in genetics and breeding to study the inheritance of traits and develop new varieties of crops that are more productive, disease-resistant, and climate-tolerant. Mathematical models can help researchers identify the genes that control these traits, predict the outcomes of different breeding strategies, and optimise the selection of new varieties.
Overall, mathematics is an essential tool in agricultural technology, helping farmers and researchers make informed decisions and optimise their operations to meet the growing demand for food in a sustainable way.
Over the last months Agri-EPI has invested in the expansion of its team focused on data, engineering, and math, bringing on several new members and enabling them to offer a set of services to assist in the creation of agri-tech products.
Eliot Dixon, Head of Engineering, said:
“The team of platform and spectral imaging experts uses our fleet of sensors and specialist software to deliver a range of sensing products such as ground truthing for AI model generation, or the creation of digital twins. We are also now able to offer UAV and UGV platforms as a means to test novel sensors and end-effectors without the need for a bespoke vehicle. And through working closely with our innovation farm network, we are creating a heavily layered source of evidence for developers using our farm network to design and test their innovations.”
Agri-EPI’s GIS Data Analyst, Yingwang Gao, majored in Agricultural Engineering, and has a PhD degree specialising in Hyperspectral Imaging Applications, as well as postdoc experience working as Research Associate. In addition to a strong academic background, he has accumulated several years of industrial work experience, mainly on spectral imaging systems, R&D, and spectral imaging data analysis in various application domains. He has a strong passion for remote sensing and photogrammetry. At Agri-EPI, he takes care of data acquisition and data processing from different types of sensors, including RGB, multispectral, hyperspectral, LiDAR, and GPR, to identify and map out features of interest in the agricultural sector, to help farmers with better decision-making in agricultural management.
Agri-EPI’s new R&D Equipment Technician, Aditya Jadhav, pursued his bachelors in aeronautical engineering, where he learned various aspects of flying machines. He set up an aeromodelling club with a few of his classmates where they designed, built and tested various configurations of small UAVs. The MSc program for Autonomous vehicle dynamics and control was structured for students to gain a deeper understanding of unmanned systems. Aditya was part of a group project that built a surveillance system with a swarm of autonomous drones, and an individual project sponsored by the Railway Safety and Standards Board which aimed to design and develop an autonomous vehicle which can operate in a station environment. The advancements in robotics and the urgent need of integrating robotics with sustainable agriculture were the driving forces for him deciding to work in the agri-tech sector. As the R&D Equipment Technician, Aditya looks after all the deployable assets that are in service to the company, which includes maintenance, asset tracking and deployment, and organising the logistics.
Panagis Tzivras, Agri-EPI’S GIS Software Engineer, is a GIS expert with strong technical skills who is highly invested in programming. In his previous roles working with startups and the commercial sector, he was involved in data collection and extraction, maintaining data pipelines and building geospatial processes and automation updates. At Agri-EPI Centre he is helping to leverage the measurement resources of the centre to create high quality dataset and support systems. He is working on creating tools and code to enable the automation of data collection from a wide variety of sources available to Agri-EPI Centre.
Lastly, Aidan Robertson has joined the Agri-EPI Engineering team as their new Graduate Data Analyst. Aidan’s background is in mathematics, which he studied at University of Warwick for four years before looking for jobs related to data science. He has been working on projects related to the health and wellbeing of cows, specifically by reformatting farm datasets to be sent out for analysis. Soon, there are plans for him to begin a more ambitious project to develop a costings estimator for RAS in agriculture. This is a long-term task, but the ultimate goal would be to offer it as a service for farmers looking to introduce robotic systems into their farms. The most interesting part of agri-tech for Aidan is the data, and what it actually says about the performance of a system, as well as what can be done to help the problems being faced by the agri-tech sector at present.