ICRISAT held a workshop on UAVs for Advanced Agricultural Applications – A Report

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) organized a one-day workshop on April 4th, 2023, on the topic “UAVs for Advanced Agricultural Applications.”

The event started with an introduction about the achievements of ICRISAT with its 50 years of scientific innovation and impact on agriculture since its establishment on March 28th 1972.

The workshop’s agenda covered the overall objective of the growing niche market and other aspects of UAV-drone applications for precision agriculture.

The workshop was attended by participants from the industry, the academia, including startup founders and researchers.

Dr. Jana Kholová, Senior Scientist at ICRISAT and Dr. Sunita Choudhary, Agriculture Research Scientist at ICRISAT, moderated the discussions. 

The workshop comprised many enlightening sessions in the form of presentations and focused discussions with experts like Mr. C.S Sharma, Joint Director, Quality Council of India; Dr Wei Guo, Associate Professor, University of Tokyo, Japan; Prof. P Rajalakshmi, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad; Ms. Alexandra Bürgy, R&D Project Manager, Hiphen, France; Mr Aravazhi Selvaraj, CEO, Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP), ICRISAT; Ms Suchitra Patil, Research Scholar, IIT Patna – ICRISAT; Mr. Dinakar Devireddy, Head, Drone Pilot Trainings & Services at Telangana State Aviation Academy (TSSA); Mr. Prem Kumar Vislawath, Founder & Chief Innovator, Marut Drones; Mr. Mitul Shah, Senior Business Analyst, Powerweave; Kannan Margabandu, Chief Marketing Officer, Dhaksha Unmanned Systems; Dr. Madhuri Dubey, Founder, NSN.

ICRISAT held a workshop on UAVs for Advanced Agricultural Applications - A Report

Session 1: UAV-based advanced technology for agriculture

The first session focused on drone-based advanced technology for agriculture by Dr. Sunita Choudhary, who shared insights on the growth of the drone market in agriculture and the need for advanced drone applications at a larger scale.

Below are a few points discussed during this session:

  • The unforeseen areas of exploration with drones in agriculture
  • Importance of Phenotyping
  • Drone-based phenotyping in the international market
  • Scope for drone-based field phenotyping
  • Upcoming opportunities for drone-based smart digital phenotyping for nutrition
  • Some of the significant challenges in image analysis using drones
  • Need for drone companies to help develop advanced drones
  • ICRISAT connects with private and public firms and academia
  • Networking with drone-based organizations to create unique courses and capacity building and training

Session 2: Drone-based field phenomics

The second session focused on drone-based field phenomics in Japan. Dr. Wei Guo, Associate Professor, University of Tokyo, shared insights on using drones for various research topics, field sensing, and drone-based phenotyping systems for breeding programs.

Below are a few points discussed during this session:

  • About what kind of data can connect using drones and how drone technology is advancing rapidly
  • Need for breeders to use drones
  • Various challenges to overcome with advanced drones (Better field set-up, UAV images)
  • Importance of quality images from drones for crop phenotyping and other drone applications and more

Session 3: Technology Innovation Hub for Autonomous Navigation System at IIT-Hyderabad

In the third session, Prof. P Rajalakshmi, IIT Hyderabad, presented in testbeds on Autonomous Navigators for drones. The session focused on the technology Innovation Hub for Autonomous Navigation Systems at IIT-Hyderabad.

Below are a few points discussed during this session:

  • Facilities provided at IIT-Hyderabad
  • Initiatives developed on ground vehicles (AGVS), Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
  • Discussed the collaboration with IIT-Hyderabad and ICRISAT, PJTSAU, and the University of Tokyo
  • Ongoing drone research activities at IIT-Hyderabad

Session 4: Image processing pipeline for drone-based applications: Cloverfield

The fourth session focused on “Image processing pipeline for drone-based applications” by Ms. Alexandra Bürgy, R&D Project Manager, Hiphen, France.

Below are a few points discussed during this session:

  • Shared insights on the nanoscale for plant phenotyping using drones.
  • Discussed e-learning courses on drones in agriculture
  • New pipelines created for specific crops and presenting examples of various use cases on particular crops such as maize, sorghum, and more.

Session 5: UAV-based image analysis pipeline-A case study

The focus of the fifth session was on case study research on the “UAV-based image analysis pipeline” with Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) sensors. The session was presented by Ms. Suchitra Patil, Research Scholar, IIT Patna – ICRISAT.

Below are a few points discussed during this session:

  • Framework potential of RGB imagery for crop traits by using UAV-captured imagery
  • Presented different case studies using drone RGB sensor
  • Canopy height model for plant height

Session 6: Brief about Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) initiatives 

Mr. Aravazhi Selvaraj, CEO, Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP), ICRISAT, presented briefs on AIP initiatives at ICRISAT and opportunities with AIP in the sixth session and shared insights on Agribusiness Incubator (ABI) at ICRISAT, among other areas.

Below are a few points discussed during this session:

  • 1st incubation in India
  • Services provided by AIP: Technology development, Consultancy, Funding, Mentoring
  • Various programs at ABI-ICRISAT
  • Co-business incubation (National and International) provided by technology support
  • Building business opportunities with multiple drone companies

Session 7: Quality Control and Type Certification 

Quality control and type certification was the focus of the seventh session, presented by Mr. C.S Sharma, Joint Director, Quality Council of India, and shared insights on the importance of quality, and global compliance systems, among others.

Below are a few points discussed during this session:

  • The specific certification process for drones
  • Importance of taking mandatory type certification
  • Focused on power plant requirement
  • Developed the criteria for the accreditation of drones Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS)
  • Drones-as-a-service (DaaS) in agriculture
  • Also clarified queries on safety measures to follow while flying a drone

Also read: Marut Drones conducted farmers’ awareness sessions on Artificial Intelligence and Drone Technology https://dronefluence.com/marut-drones-conducted-farmers-awareness-sessions-on-artificial-intelligence-and-drone-technology/

Session 8: Co-development and co-design of opportunities with ICRISAT

The eighth session, which was the last session of the workshop, focused on the co-development and co-design of opportunities with ICRISAT, where Dr. Jana Kholová, Senior Scientist, ICRISAT, interacted with the panelists on potential business prospects. The panelists discussed creating a UAV phenomic consortium with various organizations, including agriculture, drones, data analysts, and more.

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