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CLIENT STORY

University of Cambridge: Transforming agriculture by combining emerging digital technologies

Digital technology has the potential to help agriculture produce higher-yielding, better-quality crops for lower cost. Collecting and interpreting data from soil, crops and the environment can help farmers understand issues from how to tackle disease and pests to when to water or fertilise fields.

By sensing, combining and analysing new data, the industry can potentially see problems coming and take action early – cutting costs and lowering the risk of ruined crops.

We’ve been working with the University of Cambridge to gather new insights on how to turn data into reliable, useful advice.

  • We’ve used drones to create 2D and 3D maps of fields to help understand ‘lodged’ crops, which bend over at the stem and can’t be harvested, cutting yields
  • We’re using machine learning technology to combine this visual information with other data like temperature and rainfall to spot patterns and predict where lodging could happen, creating more reliable forecasts for crop yields
  • We’re analysing the root structure of the black-grass weed for ways to stop it growing. This could cut the risk of damaging crops with herbicides.

We’re now looking at how to cut the cost of available sensors. We’ve designed a low-cost sensor that measures moisture and water absorption in soil, for example. That makes it more feasible and affordable for farmers to install networks of sensors focused on their specific issues – in this case, knowing when fields do and don’t need water.

All this work, and more, enables us to help organisations combine and apply fast-emerging digital technologies to enhance agricultural productivity.

Transforming agriculture with data-driven insights

Download the report

Emerging #DigitalTechnology has the potential to transform #agriculture @PA_Consulting #innovation

Contact the technology innovation team

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