Frank Ewert on “Reuters Hot List”

In April the global news agency Reuters published their list of the world’s 1000 most influential climate scientists. Frank Ewert is among the top 100.

The framework for identifying the most influential climate researchers goes back to an idea of the data journalist Maurice Tamman who created a list using a combination of three rankings. These are based on the number of publications on topics related to climate change, the number of their citations and the attention the researchers and their work have received in public policy papers, the lay press and through social media. Frank Ewert is one of the world’s top 100 climate influencers and among the top 10 in Germany.

Reuters Hot List

Call for Applications for the PhenoRob International Summer School 2021

Agricultural production of crops as a source of food and energy faces enormous challenges: on the one hand, yields must be increased to meet the needs of a growing global population, on the other hand, the available arable land is shrinking, the effects of climate change are already noticeable in many places, and the ecological footprint of crop production must be reduced. Digital technologies such as agrorobotics in particular have the potential to make a significant contribution to overcoming these challenges through optimized observation, analysis and intervention.

The deadline for applications is June 15, 2021.

The PhenoRob Excellentcluster of the University of Bonn is inviting applications for the PhenoRob International Summer School 2021 on “Agricultural Robotics”, which will take place from Tue. 24 to Sat. 28 August, 2021 as a digital event.  Advanced master students and early doctoral students (first year) are invited to apply. The summer school will be held in English.

Please see the call for applications for further information on the event, the terms of participation, and information on the application process on:

https://agrirobotics.wordpress.com/

WeedAI: automatically evaluating weeding methods

PhenoRob partner project “WeedAI” receives funding from BMEL for 3 years.

The importance of novel methods for weed control is rapidly growing, however, evaluating the effectiveness of these technologies is lacking. “Weed AI” is working on methods to rapidly and autonomously evaluate the efficacy of weeding systems. Based on core deep learning (AI) methods for plant recognition, this project will develop vision-based methods to automatically assess the effectiveness of weeding operations (both weed and crop). Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), it is hoped that this project will contribute to assessing new weeding technologies and improve uptake of these new technologies.

PhytoMo-Project to Protect Against Phytoplasm

260.000 Euros for PhenoRob Partner Project from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Globalization does not only mean more mobility for humans, but also – unfortunately – for pests and parasites. One of these new plant diseases in Germany is “Flavescence dorée”, a phytoplasma disease of the vine that has become a growing threat for our vineyards here. To battle this, the project “PhytoMo” sets out to identify diseased vines early on, using a multispectral image processing system. These can be used on the ground, but also in the air. At the University of Bonn, the project is led by Prof. Dr. Heiner Kuhlmann and Dr. Lasse Klingbeil and has been recognized as a Partner Project of Core Project 1 “4D Crop Reconstruction” in the Cluster of Excellence “PhenoRob”.

“In this project, we will watch the vines closely to detect this disease early on,” says Klingbeil. “We will use sensors to observe them in great detail and this is where ‘PhytoMo’ fits in with the research conducted in PhenoRob.” The project is a collaborative effort of the Julius Kühn-Institut, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB), University of Bonn, RLP AgroScience GmbH, LOGXON Gmbh & Co. KG and the State Education and Research Institute for Viticulture and Pomology Weinsberg. It is part of the Federal Ministry’s initiative to combat introduction and importation of regulated and new organisms harmful to plants.

Julia Klöckner, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, presents Dr. Lasse Klingbeil with the approval for funding. Photo: BMEL/Photothek/Schmitz

How plants respond to environmental stress

Biologist Prof. Dr. Amy Marshall-Colon will join PhenoRob as a guest professor in May 2022 for three months.

Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award: Plant biologist from the US will conduct research at the University of Bonn next year

What effects does environmentally induced “stress” have on crops, and how can these effects be predicted? Biologist Prof. Dr. Amy Marshall-Colon is working on this question at the University of Illinois in the US – and soon also as a guest professor at the DFG-funded Cluster of Excellence “PhenoRob – Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production” at the University of Bonn. For the cooperation with her colleagues and the planned research stay in Bonn, she now receives a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, endowed with 45,000 euros. To conduct her research, Amy Marshall-Colon will be in Bonn from May 15-August 15, 2022.

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awards around 20 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Awards to internationally renowned researchers from abroad in recognition of their outstanding research achievements. The award bears the name of the German astronomer and mathematician Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846) and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

New award recipient Amy Marshall-Colon develops models that show how plants respond to environmental perturbations considering their genetic characteristics. “Amy Marshall-Colon’s research activities are outstanding, particularly her achievements in developing mathematical multiscale models to analyze gene-by-environment interactions,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Frank Ewert, Principal Investigator at the Cluster who has nominated her for the award. The agricultural scientist has already collaborated with the plant biologist.

Among other things, Marshall-Colon investigates how plants take up nitrogen fertilizer even under higher temperatures due to climate change, which then does not end up as a pollutant in the air or water. To that end, she is exploring the underlying genetic and molecular mechanisms. Her models are constructed to lead to a better understanding of plant growth processes and to support the breeding of crops that can withstand stressful environments.

Research field is of interest to various disciplines

In recent years, Amy Marshall-Colon has already given various lectures in the context of the PhenoRob Seminar Series and the Cluster’s flagship conference DigiCrop 2020. “What’s special is that her presentations resonated not only with a small group of specialists but also with a wider audience of scientists from diverse disciplines,” says Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Nora Berning. For her, it is clear that Marshall-Colon’s research topic attracts researchers from various fields: genetics, plant biology and crop physiology as well as geodesy, photogrammetry and robotics, soil sciences, and agricultural policy. All these disciplines are represented within PhenoRob – with the overarching goal of exploring new ways to grow crops and manage fields sustainably.

About the person:

Amy Marshall-Colon is Professor of Plant Biology at the University of Illinois in the US and previously conducted research at New York University and Purdue University in West Lafayette (USA). She has already received numerous grants and awards and has published her research results in high-ranking journals for years.

Artificial Intelligence project „RegisTer“ receives funding from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)

Image: ©Philipp Lottes/ Pheno-Inspect GmbH

It’s a great day for the PhenoRob research community! Our new partner project “RegisTer” has secured funding from the BMEL for three years, and we are excited about the promising new findings of their work. The interdisciplinary project RegisTer aims to develop automated routines for the characterization and evaluation of sugar beet varieties based on optical/reflective properties of the plants. Sugar beet is an important part of the economic development in rural areas, and the plants have to endure a high tolerance to stress and disease while having a high yield. Thus, modern and better varieties have to be bred. For each newly bred sugar beet variety, an analysis of the sugar beet must be carried out concerning its distinctness from other varieties and its performance and value characteristics over several years and is finally proven by the Bundessortenamt (Federal plant variety office) for approval. The required but time-intensive manual phenotyping work for these tasks could be replaced through the work of “RegisTer,” which aims to implement plant phenotyping pipelines based on Machine Learning techniques using 3D sensors and high-resolution RGB and multispectral images coming from ultralight drones. This brings the potential opportunity to increase the precision and lower the manual work for breeders and the approval process of the Bundessortenamt.

Partner Project “Anticipating Human Behavior” has been extended for second phase

Great news for one of our partner projects! The German Research Foundation extends the research unit 2535 “Anticipating Human Behavior” for three more years. Since 2017, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gall and his team of researchers have been developing methods on how to analyse complex interactions between humans and robots as well as examine new technologies for service robots. Their goal is to create a framework that is able to anticipate human actions and the resulting future situations. Here, you can find out more about the project.

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gall on the right

PhenoRob Acquires Funding for an International Summer School in Bonn in 2021

Another milestone for PhenoRob and the agricultural research community: Together with two of the leading universities of the world, ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Lincoln University in the UK, PhenoRob will host the International Summer School “Agricultural Robotics” at the University of Bonn from August 23-27, 2021. “We are very happy about the generous funding by the DAAD Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. The Summer School will be a wonderful opportunity for our Master’s and PhD students to get valuable insights into the excellent research that is being done in PhenoRob”, says Nora Berning, Chief Administrative Officer of the Cluster of Excellence PhenoRob. Over the course of five days, 40 young researchers will have the chance to participate in scientific workshops, discussions, trainings and joint activities led by the Cluster’s researchers. The topics covered in the workshops include Machine Learning, Graph-based Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), Robot Perception, Economics of Robotics and Sensing Applications in Agriculture and many more. In light of the excellent line-up, the Cluster is very much looking forward to a productive, informative and memorable week next summer.

PhenoRob PhD student Jan Weyler

Prof. Dr. Frank Ewert recognized as one of the most influential scientists in the field of Agricultural Science

According to the international ranking “Highly Cited Researchers 2020”, one of our Principal Investigators Prof. Dr. Frank Ewert belongs to the top 1% of researchers worldwide. His scientific papers and his academic work are leading the way in his field of Agricultural Sciences and influence the research of numerous scientists around the world. You can read about the full ranking here and review the publications of Prof. Dr. Ewert here.

Prof. Dr. Frank Ewert, Principal Investigator PhenoRob
© Volker Lannert

PhenoRob PhD student Christoph Pahmeyer wins 2020 DIGICROP Best Video Award

In the closing session of the virtual conference DIGICROP2020, the spokespersons of the Cluster of Excellence, Heiner Kuhlmann and Cyrill Stachniss, announced the winner of the Best Video Award – Christoph Pahmeyer. Christoph, PhD student in the Cluster of Excellence “PhenoRob”, wins the award for his video “Fruchtfolge: A crop rotation decision support system” in the category “short trailer”. You can watch his award-winning trailer here. Christoph has created a short guide on how to create great videos and was so kind as to share his blog post with us. You can read Christoph’s helpful advice here. Thanks, Christoph, and congratulations!