Laboratory for intelligent agricultural decision support systems (LADS)

Last changed: 04 October 2019
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A programme for strengthening and further develop digital decision support systems to face new information demand for sustainable and efficient agricultural production. LADS’ research is carried out in close collaboration with authorities, industry and farmers.

Several decision support systems and geospatial datasets for precision agriculture have been and are being developed during recent years through successful collaboration between SLU and different players such as Hushållningssällskapet, DataVäxt AB, Lantmännen, Agroväst Livsmedel AB, Greppa Näringen och Jordbruksverket, Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning, Västra Götalandsregionen, Solvi AB and others.

International collaborations

International work is currently carried out through EU Interreg projects in northern Europe, but also in Africa, e.g. in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

Outreach and development

Outreach and development projects, primarily for the Swedish farmers, and advisors are carried out within the framework of the collaboration network Precisionsodling Sverige (POS - Precisionsskolan; Precision Agriculture Sweden), and also with the Centre for Chemical Pesticides (CKB)

Our vision

The vision of LADS is that programme outcomes shall lead to:

  • optimized use of inputs
  • better economic returns
  • reduced risk of negative environmental impact
  • better quality of the produce

Read about our projects under the image slide show.

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CropSAT is a decision support tool for practical precision agriculture based on satellite data developed by members of the LADS group. It has thousands of users.
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CropSAT is now available globally – with several language versions, and collaboration with organizations in many countries. Several LADS projects aim to improve this type of tool.
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Markdata is a decision support tool based on the Digital Soil Map of Sweden (DSMS). We develop interactive functionality enabling users to downscale soil maps in the system.
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The Digital Soil Map of Sweden (DSMS) – a national geospatial soil properties database useful in precision agriculture and developed by the LADS group – and further development is ongoing.
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The Sub-Saharan Africa Soil Data Manager – an application for accessing and downscaling of large-scale soil data, for applications dealing with e.g. food security and climate change mitigation.
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Drones are currently revolutionizing certain parts of agricultural research. With the Zonal Statistics Tool in Solvi.nu, using drones in field trials has become much easier.

Target-N: Sentinel-2 based nitrogen optimisation in winter wheat and malting barley

There is currently no open algorithm for optimising N rates to grain crops for general and free use. The aim of this the proposed project is to develop public algorithms between multispectral reflectance measurements of the crop and the economically optimal nitrogen rate.

We aim to facilitate optimisation of nitrogen fertilisation for most of Sweden's grain producers. To achieve this, we will develop and evaluate prediction models for economically optimal nitrogenrate (EONR) in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and malting barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), based on near real-time satellite reflectance data (Sentinel-2) at the time of supplemental fertilisation.

The prediction models will be designed for use in satellite-based decision support systems for precision agriculture (e.g. CropSAT), to translate satellite data into directly applicable N rate recommendation maps. Better-optimised nitrogenrates mean better profits for farmers, better scope for achieving quality goals for produce and reduced environmental risks in terms of nitrogen leaching and/or volatilisation of nitrogen compounds.

Project group

  • Kristin Piikki, SLU
  • Mats Söderström, SLU
  • Henrik Stadig, Hushållningssällskapet Skaraborg

Project period

The project starts in 2019 and ends in 2021.

Funding

Stiftelsen lantbruksforskning (contract: O-18-20-162).

Providing decision support for land management in smallholder farming systems in East Africa

Well-informed decisions on land use and agricultural practices are crucial for food security and sustainable agriculture. Agronomic decisions must be based on local conditions and this call for the development of efficient soil mapping methods of East African agricultural soils.

The present project deals with pedometric considerations and outline methodologies for in situ and ex situ soil measurements by use of proximal sensor, local map adaptation of large-scale digital soil maps and inclusion of soil data in crop suitability modelling. The work focusses on soil properties that are important for crop productivity (the content of organic carbon, texture, plant-available nutrient content, and soil pH) and results are intended for use by agricultural extension officers, technicians and other scientists. An important part of the project is to disseminate the results to stakeholders and educate agricultural extension officers on how to use the digital soil map information in management decisions in smallholder farming systems in East Africa.

The project is a collaboration project between the International Centre for tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and SLU.

Various sensors (a-e) used in field work in Embu, Kenya

Project leader

Kristin Piikki, SLU/ CIAT

Project period

The project started in 2014 and ends in 2019.

Funding

Formas/SIDA (contract: 2013-01975)

Publications

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Conference papers

Technical report

Blog posts newsletters etc.

Map books / Web map applications

R packages

Datasets

Video

CropSAT: Towards the new agriculture

– integrating data from satellites and N-sensors for nitrogen recommendations and crop status mapping within fields

The long title is the name of the initial SLF-funded project that lead to the development of the web application CropSAT. CropSAT has become a widely used decision support tool primarily for precision application of nitrogen. In 2018 the system had more than 20000 users, most in Scandinavia.

Responsive fertilisation of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is often adopted, with nitrogen (N) applied two or three times between the developmental stages of tillering and booting. Satellite-based decision support systems (DSS) providing vegetation index maps calculated from satellite data are available to aid farmers in adjusting the topdressing N rate site-specifically to the current season and to variations in growth conditions within the field. In this project, the freely available CropSAT DSS was developed and evaluated. The system provides farmers with raster maps of the modified soil-adjusted vegetation index (MSAVI2) or normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) (the latter in Denmark, the former elsewhere) calculated from data obtained from satellites Sentinel-2 (ESA,EU).

The project was a collaboration project between SLU, Hushållningssällskapet, DataVäxt AB, Agroväst Livsmedel, and Greppa Näringen (Focus-on-Nutrients). Later on SEGES in Denmark became involved in the development.

Further research and development on functionality of CropSAT and satellite-based systems is ongoing in LADS.

CropSAT – a satellite images based decision support system, free to use. The first application of its kind in Scandinavia.

Project team

Project team 2013-2014: Mats Söderström, SLU (PI); Henrik Stadig, Hushållningssällskapet; Johan Martinsson, DataVäxt AB.

Project period

The initial project started in 2013 and ended in 2014. Later external support from other donors and continued in project form until 2018, when it was acquired by DataVäxt AB. Research and development on CropSAT and satellite-based systems continuous in LADS.

Funding

Swedish Foundation for Agricultural Research (SLF) (proj. no. H1233115), and Focus-on-Nutrients (Swedish Board of Agriculture). Development have been supported by SEGES (in Denmark) and Yara (in Norway).

Publications

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Conference papers

Technical report

Popular

  • Söderström, M. 2018. Satellitbilder året om med CropSAT Arvensis, 7, 2018: 26-28. (In Swedish)
  • Söderström, M. 2017. CropSAT ännu bättre i år. Arvensis, 3, 2017: 15. (In Swedish)
  • Söderström, M. 2016. Hur funkar CropSAT? Arvensis, 3, 2016: 22-24. (In Swedish)

Web pages, applications

Video, pod, blog with info on CropSAT

Solvi: Trial plot extraction tool for UAV images

Solvi.nu is web application for management of drone images. One special feature in the system is management of images acquired over field crop trials. The aim of this tool was to facilitate the use drones in crop trials, which is of world-wide interest.     

Much of what we know about how new crop varieties react under field conditions, as well as how to optimize fertilisation and other management actions, emanates from field trials. A field trial may consist of hundreds of small plots in which crop response to management can be assessed in a statistically rigorous manner. During later years the use of crop sensors have become more common in this work, and drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, UAV) as a platform for measurement is regarded as very promising.

In order to automate the management of drone images from field trials, we have developed a new cloud-based tool that requires a very limited input from the user. The tool automatically detects boundaries of each plot in a mosaic image through a neural network model, and calculates summary statistics for individual bands and selected vegetation indices. Plot-wise data can then be exported as text files or in geographical formats for further analysis in geographical information systems.

The Zonal statistics and Trial plot extraction tool was implemented in Solvi (www.solvi.nu) - a web application for drone imagery analysis. Further development is ongoing.

Through the Zonal statistics and Trial plot extraction tool in Solvi.nu it becomes much easier to use drones in field trials.

Project team

Mats Söderström, SLU; Sofia Delin, SLU; Igor Tihonov, Solvi.

Project period

The project started in 2018, and a functioning version is currently online. Further development is ongoing.

Funding

Vinnova (dnr: 2016–04248) within the Testbed UAV project, coordinated by RISE Research Institute of Sweden AB.

Publications

Web pages, applications

Blogs

DSMS: Digital Soil Map of Sweden

DSMS is an open geodatabase with information on the topsoil of the arable land in Sweden. The aim is that the data shall be accurate and detailed enough to be useful for precision agriculture, i.e. for management decision within fields.

The spatial resolution of DSMS map layers is 50 m × 50 m. Currently, it covers > 90% of the arable land of Sweden (~2.5 million ha). Non-agriculture land and areas with organic soil are not covered. Access to a number of national datasets made it possible to build the DSMS. Results from two soil sampling campaigns (~15 000 samples) were combined with remote sensing data (gamma radiation data from airborne radiometric scanning and a digital elevation model derived from airborne laser scanning) plus a Quaternary soil deposit map. So far, multivariate adaptive regression splines models were parameterized for content of clay, sand and organic matter, as well as buffering capacity and target-pH. DSMS data is provided for free by the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU). Examples of applications developed based on the DSMS are web applications used by farmers to generate prescription files for variable-rate seeding and variable-rate liming – e.g. Markdata.se.

Later research has focused on developing interactive functionality between digital soil mapping databases and the user’s local data. This means that a user can combine local data with e.g. DSMS maps, and automatically downscale the database to generate improved local maps.

Currently, research is ongoing for developing new map layers of DSMS.

DSMS is free to use and can be used for the development of web applications suitable for precision agriculture. The image shows a map for variable-rate liming developed in Markdata.se, an application based on DSMS data.

Project team

DSMS development project team: Mats Söderström and Kristin Piikki, SLU; Gustav Sohlenius and Lars Rodhe, SGU. Development of Markdata.se was carried out by Kristin Piikki and Mats Söderström, SLU; Henrik Stadig, Hushållningssällskapet; Johan Martinsson, DataVäxt AB. Current research is carried out by PhD student Karl Adler, SLU.

Projects and Funding

A pre-study was carried out by SLU in collaboration with Hushållningssällskapet in 2010-2011 (Swedish National Space Board, proj no. 199/10). The initial development of DSMS started in 2013 was also financed by the Swedish National Space Board (proj no. 214/13) and SGU. Further developments have been funded by the Swedish Foundation for Agricultural Research (SLF; O-15-20-566). Current projects for the development of DSMS are funded by Västra Götalands Regionen and SLU (VGR/SLU project RUN 2018-00141).

Acknowledgements

DSMS could be created thanks to availability of data från Lantmäteriet, SGU, the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) and Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket).

Publications

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Conference papers, book chapters

Web pages, applications


Contact

Mats Söderström, External collaboration specialist
Department of Soil and Environment, SLU
mats.soderstrom@slu.se , +46 511-672 44

Page editor: cajsa.lithell@slu.se