Robotics and automation technology are being adopted to boost agricultural productivity and improve environmental sustainability. Precision agriculture through robotics can reduce the risk of environmental pollution including chemical runoff, promoting eco-friendly farming practices. One of the challenges farmers face today is determining the optimal application rate of nitrogen fertilizer, often resorting to over-fertilization to guarantee adequate farm production. While nitrogen is crucial for plant growth, excessive amounts can have negative effects on both productivity and the environment.
To address this challenge, the Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural Systems (CPAAS) at Washington State University is developing a machine-vision solution for precision nitrogen application in apple orchards. Their goal is to assess the nitrogen state of individual trees in commercial orchards using the system and apply precise amounts of nitrogen, at the right time and locations.