Abstract

PhenoRob – Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production

How to feed a hungry world in the forthcoming future is an open problem. The world population is increasing as well as the demand for renewable resources from agricultural production. Arable land, however, is limited. The pollution of soil and environment through agrochemicals and fertilizer must be reduced, which is currently of special interest in Central Europe. At the same time, climate change poses additional constraints. The major, hitherto unmet challenge is to increase crop production while reducing the environmental footprint and achieving sustainable crop production.

The main hypothesis of this proposed Cluster of Excellence is that a major shift toward sustainable crop production can be achieved by two specific aims: (1) multi-scale monitoring of plants and the environment using autonomous robotics with automated intervention and big data analytics combined with machine learning; and (2) integrating the developed technical innovations by considering crop farming in a systemic manner.

In this proposed cluster, we will combine recent advances in high-precision monitoring, phenotyping, distributed sensing, and robotics with data sciences, ecosystem and soil research, and crop growth modeling. First, we will systematically monitor all essential aspects of crop farming using sensor networks and mobile ground and aerial robots. This provides spatiotemporally-aligned, detailed, per-plant information, and soil, nutrient, and ecosystem parameters such as weather and biodiversity. These data will enable more effective and sustainable control and management of inputs (crop genetic resources, crop management, soil, and weather conditions, etc.) and outputs (yield, plant growth, phenotypic performance, and environmental impact, etc.) for the whole system comprising soil, crop, and ecosystem. Second, we will develop novel technologies to enable real-time, automated control of weeds, a central limitation to agricultural productivity, and selective spraying and fertilization of individual plants in field stands. This will reduce the environmental footprint by reducing chemical input while minimizing soil degradation and erosion. Third, machine learning and big data sciences applied to recorded, spatiotemporally-aligned crop data can improve our understanding and modeling of plant growth and nutrient and water efficiencies with respect to inputs, and will help to identify complex correlations and outputs. The resulting technology and knowledge will change crop production on all scales. Fourth, in addition to the impacts on management decisions at the farm level, we will investigate the requirements for broad technology uptake, market interactions, and the resulting impacts from upscaling the developed technologies.

People

Spokespersons

Name Function Institution
Cyrill Stachniss,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Photogrammetry and Robotics Group University of Bonn, IGG
Heiner Kuhlmann,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Geodesy Group University of Bonn, IGG

Principal Investigators

Name Function Institution
Wulf Amelung,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. of Soil Science and Soil Ecology; head of the FZJ Agrosphere Institute (IBG-3) University of Bonn, INRES and Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-3
Sven Behnke,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Autonomous Intelligent Systems Group University of Bonn, CS
Maren Bennewitz
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Humanoid Robotics Group University of Bonn, CS
Jan Börner,
Jun.-Prof. Dr.
Junior professor of Economics of Sustainable Natural Resource Use and Bioeconomy University of Bonn, Center for Development Research and ILR
Frank Ewert,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Crop Science Group and Scientific Director of Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) University of Bonn, INRES and Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research
Jürgen Gall,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Computer Vision Group University of Bonn, CS
Thomas Heckelei,
Prof. Ph.D.
Prof. and head of the Economic and Agricultural Policy Group University of Bonn, ILR
Heiner Kuhlmann,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Geodesy Group University of Bonn, IGG
Uwe Rascher,
Prof. Dr.
Head of the IBG-2 Research Area Shoot Dynamics and Prof. of Quantitative Physiology of Crops Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-2 and University of Bonn, INRES
Gabriel Schaaf,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Ecophysiology of Plant Nutrition Group University of Bonn, INRES
Ulrich Schurr,
Prof. Dr.
Director of the FZJ, Plant Sciences (IBG-2) and Group Leader Alternative Biomass Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-2
Stefan Siebert,
Dr.
Researcher in the Crop Science Group University of Bonn, INRES
Cyrill Stachniss,
Prof. Dr.
Prof. and head of the Photogrammetry and Robotics Group University of Bonn, IGG
Harry Vereecken,
Prof. Dr.
Director of the FZJ Agrosphere Institute IBG-3 and Prof. of Soil Science and Agrosphere Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-3 and University of Bonn, INRES
Michelle Watt
Prof. Ph.D.
Director of FZJ Plant Sciences (IBG 2) and Group Leader of Root Dynamics;
Prof. of Crop Root Physiology
Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-2 and University of Bonn, INRES
Stefan Wrobel,
Prof. Dr.
Director of the Fraunhofer Institute IAIS and Prof. of Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems University of Bonn, CS and Fraunhofer IAIS

Associate Members

Name Professorship Institution
Christian Bauckhage, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Multimedia Pattern Recognition University of Bonn
Nicolas Brüggemann, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Plant-Soil-Atmosphere Exchange Processes Forschungszentrum Jülich
and University of Bonn
Harrie-Jan Hendricks-Franssen, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Scientific Computation in Terrestrial Systems Forschungszentrum Jülich
Claudia Knief, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Molecular Biology of the Rhizosphere University of Bonn
Stefan Kollet, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Integrated Modeling of Terrestrial Systems Forschungszentrum Jülich
and University of Bonn
Jens Leon, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Plant Breeding University of Bonn
Dr. Ribana Roscher, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jun.-Prof. of Remote Sensing University of Bonn
Andrea Schnepf, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Flow and Transport in Soil-Plant-Systems University of Bonn
Peter Schulze-Lammers, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Systems Eng. in Plant Production University of Bonn
Clemens Simmer, Prof. Dr. Prof. of General and Experimental Meteorology University of Bonn
Jan Vanderborght, Prof. Prof. of Modeling Terrestrial Systems Forschungszentrum Jülich
Joachim von Braun, Prof. Dr. Prof. of Economics and Technical Change University of Bonn

Projects

Related Projects

Agency Project ID/Name Involved PIs Period
DFG SFB/TR-32: Patterns in Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere Systems – Monitoring, Modelling and Data Assimilation Amelung, Ewert, Rascher, Vereecken 2007-2019
DFG FOR 1505: Mapping on Demand Stachniss (spokesperson), Behnke, Gall, Kuhlmann 2012-2018
DFG FOR 1320: Crop Sequence and Nutrient Acquisition from the Subsoil Amelung, Ewert, Vereecken 2010-2014
DFG FOR 2535: Anticipating Human Behavior Gall (spokesperson), Behnke, Bennewitz 2017-2021
DFG FOR 1501: Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of East- and South Africa’s Savannahs Ewert, Heckelei 2010-2016
DFG FOR 566: Veterinary Medicines in Soils: Basic Research for Risk Analysis Amelung (spokesperson), Vereecken 2005-2015
DFG SPP 1335: Scalable Visual Analytics Wrobel (vice coordinator) 2008-2015
EC EPPN: European Plant Phenotyping Network Schurr (coordinator) 2012-2015
EC EMPHASIS: European Multi-Environment Plant Phenotyping and Simulation Infrastructure Schurr (coordinator) since 2016
EC Flourish: Aerial Data Collection and Analysis, and Automated Ground

Intervention for Precision Farming

Stachniss 2015-2018
EC MACSUR: Modelling European Agriculture with Climate Change for Food Security Ewert, Heckelei 2012-2017
BMBF DPPN Deutsches Pflanzen Phänotypisierungsnetzwerk Schurr (spokesperson), Rascher 2012-2018
BMBF CROP.SENSe.net Schurr (coordinator), Amelung, Kuhlmann, Rascher 2009-2015
BMBF Soil3: Sustainable Subsoil Management Amelung (spokesperson), Ewert 2015-2024
Helmholtz TERENO: Terrestrial Environment Observatories Vereecken since 2008

Contact

Prof. Dr. Cyrill Stachniss
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Photogrammetry
Nussallee 15
53115 Bonn
Germany
Phone: +49 228 73 27 14
Email: cyrill.stachniss@igg.uni-bonn.de

Prof. Dr. Heiner Kuhlmann
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Geodesy
Nussallee 17
53115 Bonn
Germany
Phone: +49 228 73 26 10
Email: heiner.kuhlmann@uni-bonn.de