What's the growth like? Have pests and diseases struck? Are the increased droughts affecting the plants? Breeders of new varieties have to collect extensive data on these questions. The start-up "Pheno-Inspect" of the University of Bonn wants to accelerate plant cultivation. Camera-equipped drones record the crops, software then automatically evaluates their properties using artificial intelligence methods. This indicates very quickly whether the new breed is a success. The project is supported by the "START-UP University Spin-offs" program with around 270,000 Euros.
With a gentle hum, the drone flies over the plant breeder's fields. During the flight, it continuously takes pictures of the plants, which are later analyzed automatically using artificial intelligence. The breeder can then use the results to evaluate which varieties are particularly suited to the breeding objective. "Global population growth means that agriculture will have to produce even higher yields in the future, while the area of the arable land remains the same," says Philipp Lottes, research associate at the Institute for Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn. "The current bottleneck in the development of new and better varieties is high-throughput phenotyping in the field."