National Taiwan University develops smart agriculture

Apex Agri-Intelligence Lab founded at NTU

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NTU working to develop smart agriculture (CNA photo)

NTU working to develop smart agriculture (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – National Taiwan University (NTU) has joined hands with the drone industry to establish the Apex Agri-Intelligence Lab on Monday (Aug. 19).

NTU's College of Bio-Resources and Agriculture collaborates with Jingwei Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (經緯航太公司), which develops drones, to introduce advanced technologies into agriculture. With this well-equipped lab, the college will hold training sessions on topics such as drones, remote sensing technology, and image analyzing, reported the Central News Agency.

The person in charge of the lab, Professor Liu Li-yu (劉力瑜) of the Department of Agronomy, said that drones can be of great help in spraying and scanning crops. Drones can carry up to 12 kilograms of insecticides at a given time, and it only takes 15 minutes to scan a two-acre field to check the crops for disease and ascertain their growth, according to the Liberty Times.

Luo Zhengfang (羅正方), the founder and chairman of Jingwei, said he was happy to see the fruitful results of three years of hard work. Drones have already been used to monitor the growth of corn, and they could also be applied to wipe out the fall armyworm infestation.

Jingwei hopes the industry-academia collaboration can pioneer smart agriculture in Taiwan as well as solve the food crisis and other problems faced by the agriculture sector today. Moreover, the company aims to use its technologies to help countries in Southeast Asia, in line with the government's New Agricultural and New Southbound policies.

Developing smart agriculture might be a timely solution for the country's aging, shrinking agricultural population. State-of-the-art technologies such as big data, the Internet of things, and Blockchain can mitigate the impact of global warming, reduce the need for laborers, and accelerate agricultural transformation, reported UDN.

According to NTU, bringing technology into agriculture and nurturing young talents are the most important missions of the College of Bio-Resources and Agriculture. For example, a smart ranch equipped with 10 different sensors to produce high-quality milk from cattle has been jointly built by the Department of Animal Science and Technology and the Department of Biomechatronics Engineering.

Sensors, time-lapse photography equipment, and a weather station were installed at NTU's Experimental Farm, providing real-time data that can help predict the growth of crops. Blockchain technology was also introduced to trace the production of food and ensure food safety, reported UDN.