Ten early stage research projects with commercial potential from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, UC Davis, Kansas State, University of Missouri, Purdue University and Ohio State University address innovations in animal health and husbandry, precision ag and sensors for outdoor agriculture, precision controls for indoor agriculture, renewable bio-based industrial products, high-throughput phenotyping and other advanced technologies for plant breeding and plant pathogen detection.
Here’s a sneak peek at the TERRA-REF innovation that will be presented by Nadia Shakoor, Ph.D., research manager in the Mockler Lab at the Danforth Center and associate director of the TERRA-REF project.
The TERRA-REF program uniquely integrates agriculture, information technology and engineering communities to address major challenges in providing sustainable, affordable and abundant plant feedstocks for food and bioenergy. Todd Mockler, Ph.D., associate member, Geraldine and Robert Virgil Distinguished Investigator at the Danforth Center is leading the multi-institutional project to accelerate breeding and the commercial release of high-yield bioenergy sorghum hybrids through cutting-edge camera and sensor technologies, novel algorithms for image analytics and supercomputers to measure crop growth and development efficiently, accurately and quantitatively under different environmental conditions.
This summer the TERRA team successfully deployed the world’s largest robotic field scanner which is currently monitoring the growth of 1.5 acres of energy sorghum.
“Precision phenotyping of sorghum under field conditions is a large and complex challenge that necessitates the collaboration of experts across diverse scientific and engineering fields,” said Shakoor. “As the reference team, we are facilitating the development of accurate, predictive phenotyping algorithms by producing and disseminating high-fidelity field datasets to all the TERRA program teams. We are working with the TERRA teams to combine genetics, sensors, automation and computation into an integrated plant phenotyping platform that can quantify, model and accurately predict sorghum performance in the field, while also creating provisions for data quality control, standardization and digital communication of reference data and algorithms to the research community.”
Sorghum is quickly becoming the premier bioenergy crop in the U.S. due to its adaptability to diverse environments, low fertilizer requirements, high biomass potential and its compatibility with row crop production. The data being collected from this study can not only be used to better understand sorghum as a potential sustainable next-generation biofuel, but it can also be easily translated into food crops which will be incredibly important as we move through the 21st century.
To learn more about the nine other early stage innovations that will be discussed during the special content sessions, click here.
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