Researchers at Kansas State University are working on a system to make chemical crop treatments more efficient using robots have been awarded an $882,920 USDA grant.
The focus of their work is a system that can identify the presence of crop pests and utilize focused chemical applications by autonomous robots. It’s an effort to reduce broad use of pesticides to limit environmental impact as well as ensure that pesticide treatments are more effective — agricultural producers lose 37 percent of crop yield to pests despite collectively spraying close to $15 billion worth of the chemicals per year.
The project is the collaborative work of Ajay Sharda and Dan Flippo, both assistant professors of biological and agricultural engineering, as well as Brian McCormick, associate professor of entomology and interim head of the entomology department.
“This research will create a paradigm shift in sustainable crop production and provide new opportunities for using intelligent operating systems to improve pest control applications and reduce yield gaps,” Sharda said.
Sharda says using the new approach to chemical crop treatment to locate insect presence and severity will be a big change from existing practices.
“Involving both graduate and undergraduate students in creating this platform to advance crop protection,” Sharda said, “will help to make Kansas State University one of the top institutions engaged in the development of smart autonomous systems for agriculture.”