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OG Precision Horticulture

High precision detection and spraying of aphids for optimization of lettuce production

1.4.2017 - 31.3.2020

Identification of remote-sensing techniques for the early detection of aphid infestation in lettuce plantations and development of an automated tractor-borne system for detection and spraying, aiming to reduce the use of pesticides by selective spraying.

Lettuce cultures are prone to aphid infestations and therefore routinely sprayed with pesticides. To reduce the use of pesticides, a fast and non-invasive detection method must be developed and coupled with a spraying device that allows for selective spraying of infested plants. The Precision horticulture project (Full name: Optimization of baby leaf salad production through the use of precision detection and application of pesticides) aims to develop the detection method of aphids and technical setup for selective spraying of aphid-infested lettuce plants. In order to detect the plant’s stress response to aphid infestation, different non-invasive techniques are assessed by IBG-2 Forschungszentrum Jülich. As a first possible method, spectral reflectance measurements will be explored, followed by chlorophyll fluorescence measurements and further approaches when needed.. Simultaneously, Prof. Lutz Damerow from the University of Bonn, Institute for Systems Engineering in Plant Production, develops an improved spraying device that can selectively spray the infested plant plus its surroundings. Both techniques will be combined in a tractor-borne system and tested at the farm from Konrad Schwarz, Bornheim. Quality of the produced lettuce will be controlled and evaluated by Dr. Svea Pacyna-Schürheck (Quality management, Landgard, Bornheim). The project is coordinated by Dr. Hannah Jaenicke, Competence Centre Horticulture (KoGa). On the long term, the developed setup will contribute to reduce the costs for pesticide treatments and minimize their environmental impact.
The project is funded by the Ministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen in the framework of the Förderwettbewerb zur Europäischen Innovationspartnerschaft „Landwirtschaftliche Produktivität und Nachhaltigkeit“.