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Cluster of Excellence "PhenoRob"

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Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production

Food, feed, fiber, and fuel: Crop farming plays an essential role for the future of humanity and our planet. The environmental footprint of agriculture needs to be reduced: less input of chemicals like herbicides and fertilizer and other limited resources like water or energy. Simultaneously, the decline in arable land and climate change pose additional constraints like drought, heat, and other extreme weather events. Achieving sustainable crop production with limited resources is a task of immense proportions.

In order to achieve this, the University of Bonn together with Forschungszentrum Jülich conducts research in the Cluster of Excellence “PhenoRob – Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production” to develop methods and new technologies that observe, analyze, better understand and specifically treat plants. Our research focuses on improving the fundamental understanding of all relevant parameters like plant growth, soil, biodiversity, or atmosphere. PhenoRob, the only Cluster of Excellence in agriculture in Germany, aims at addressing these issues: Change crop production by optimizing breeding and farming management using new technologies.

 

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Research for the Future of Agriculture

PhenoRob takes a technology-driven approach to address the challenging scientific objectives. We foresee novel ways of growing crops and managing fields, and aim at reducing the environmental footprint of crop production, maintaining the quality of soil and arable land, and analyzing the best routes to improve the adoption of technology. The novel approach of PhenoRob is characterized by the integration of robotics, digitalization, and machine learning on one hand, and modern phenotyping, modeling, and crop production on the other.

We systematically monitor all essential aspects of crop production using sensor networks as well as ground and aerial robots. These various in-field monitoring activities will generate large amounts of heterogeneous data on plants, crop stands, soil, and the environment such as weather or vegetation biodiversity. This enables a more targeted management of inputs (genetic resources, crop protection, fertilization) for optimizing outputs (yield, growth, environmental impact).

We develop novel technologies to enable real-time and automated control of weeds and selective spraying and fertilization of individual plants in field stands. This helps to reduce the environmental footprint by lowering the amount of applied chemicals, improving water and nutrient use efficiency, and minimizing soil degradation and erosion.

 

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We apply modern machine learning techniques to analyze large amounts of acquired crop data. Doing so, we improve our understanding and our models of plant growth, and of nutrient and water use efficiency, and identify correlations between inputs and outputs./p>

We investigate the requirements for technology adoption and socioeconomic and environmental impact of the innovations. And we predict the expected impacts of novel approaches on management decisions at the farm level.

 

Six Core Projects

Based on successful interdisciplinary research, the Cluster of Excellence PhenoRob is moving toward sustainable crop production, spanning from monitoring and understanding to assessment and identification of promising solutions. The research in the cluster will be organized along six core projects, accompanied by further exploratory research activities.:

 

CP1_Icon_125 In-Field 4D Crop Reconstruction   CP2_Icon_125 Large-Scale Relevance Detection of Crop Features
         
CP3_Icon_125 The Soil-Root Zone   CP4_Icon_125 Autonomous In-Field Intervention
         
CP5_Icon_125 New Field Arrangements   CP6_Icon_125 Technology Adoption and Impact
         

 

Cluster of Excellence Website

 

Spokespersons

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Photogrammetry
Prof. Dr. Cyrill Stachniss

   Nußallee 15, 53115 Bonn
  +49 228 73-2714
  stachniss

 
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Geodesy
Prof. Dr. Heiner Kuhlmann

   Nußallee 17, 53115 Bonn
  +49 228 73-2620
  kuhlmann

 

Cluster Office

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Chief Administration Officer
Dr. Nora Berning

   Nußallee 17, 53115 Bonn
  +49 228 73-3563
  berning

 
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Team Assistant
Sonja Schwarz

   Nußallee 17, 53115 Bonn
  +49 228 73-3574
  schwarz

 
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Research Data Manager
Annika Bonerath

   Meckenheimer Allee 172, 53115 Bonn
  +49 228 73-3044
  bonerath

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PR Manager
Natascha Buhl

   Nußallee 17, 53115 Bonn
  +49 228 73-3567
  buhl

 
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Innovation Manager
Benedikt Springer

   Nußallee 17, 53115 Bonn
  +49 228 73-5630
  springer

 
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Experimental Technician
Patrick Hostnik

   Campus Klein-Altendorf
  +49 2225 999 63-0
  hostnik

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