The UC Davis Office of Research is supporting new work that aims to improve the efficacy of indoor farming with an innovative use of fluorescence lifetime imaging or FLIM*.
The Interdisciplinary Research catalyst Faculty Fellows Program will support work to improve the efficacy of indoor farming, which in the USA alone accounts for 55% of vegetable farming with a value of US$3.1B.
The Fellowship will support research in ultra fast FLIM for agriculture, tracking growth rates, nutrient levels and overall plant health in indoor farms and greenhouses.
The goal is to attach light based detectors to drones with the aim of cutting labour costs and improving farm output.
“Basically we are using these tools to determine whether the plants are happy and healthy or not, and that happiness can be expressed by molecules who emits light of different colors and lifetimes. But, these differences in these molecules can be hard for the human eye to detect,”
Professor Saif Islam.
“So we are creating a camera or imaging platform that can capture the color, lifetime and location of the photon in the molecule. Once you can figure all those things out, you can then use artificial intelligence to know if the plants are happy and healthy or not.”
*FLIM is a medical diagnostic technology that use ultra fast cameras and specialist detectors that slow down and trap photons for analysis.