Modern agriculture has been strongly influenced by scientific and technical progress. Agricultural engineering has become “intelligent”. Machines navigate skillfully in different terrains by means of GPS, are equipped with various sensor systems, communicate with each other and collect data independently on-site. The JKI focuses on special subfields of agricultural engineering.
One key aspect of JKI research in this field is the development of intelligent sprayers that help apply pesticides precisely on the spot where needed and with low loss. Another thematic priority is precise application, the so-called precision farming. This concept also includes the detection of pests and diseases with technical aids, such as with optical systems. The data these systems are collecting are partially processed already on site and serve the prediction of disease development and weed spread. Thanks to powerful computers, spraying maps are created and allow farmers to match the amount of pesticides spread more closely to crop needs. This approach reduces the input of plant protection products because the agents are applied only if necessary and, if so, at the right time and in the right place.
Furthermore, JKI experts are working on mobile measuring systems that record distinct quality traits of plants, such as protein levels, oil or starch contents, already on the field and, more important, before harvest.
Breeding research at the JKI benefits from automated phenotyping since it is highly time saving, efficient and accurate. Machines shall help to assess phenological plant traits such as leaf or fruit development in promising material or new varieties or shall test their susceptibility to diseases. For many traits, the rating of plants done by robots has the advantage of obtaining much faster and nearly faultless measurements.