Research project Smart Farming 4.0 – IN4.0 ready hyperspectral image processing platform for disease detection in agriculture and fruit growing

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Main research question

The sooner and more specifically the farmer can detect plant diseases in the field, the quicker and more efficient he can correct them with (less) crop protection products. In the project 'Proeftuin Smart Farming 4.0 ', the researchers choose two plant disease cases in which they want to raise the digital image recognition and the diagnostic interpretation to a (near) market ready level. First, it concerns alternaria (a fungal disease) in potato cultivation and, second, fire blight in apple and pear cultivation. For both diseases, manual field inspections are still being carried out.

Research approach

The two use-cases, i.e. early and site-specific detection of Alternaria in potatoes and fire blight in orchards, have been chosen because of their strong valorisation potential within the sector. Together with industry experts, we customise the possibilities of new hyperspectral cameras and accompanying software for disease detection on the specific crops and diseases. We are looking at the use of the sensors - in combination with drone or tractor - for innovative offline and online applications. We organize demonstrations around the hyperspectral image processing platform and their (intermediate) performance in the use cases. The critical gradual co-creative approach is essential to achieve a broader breakthrough and its eventual use in agriculture.


For the agricultural sectors concerned and their pioneers, as well as with the researchers and developers involved, walking through the typical experimental field steps steps and thus to participate in the measurements, changes and adjustments is highly revealing. We expect the planned demonstrations to clearly illustrate the practical possibilities and benefits of a hyperspectral imaging platform in both of these challenging cases. The output of this test field may also be valuable to all companies in the manufacturing industry to introduce them to the hyperspectral imaging platform and to let them reflect on applications in their own activity domain. Those who specifically deal with Alternaria in a potato field know what economic and sustainability gains await in terms of reduced production losses and in terms of cost of working hours and plant protection products. The same applies in the fruit sector: In recent years, severe fire blight infections have caused more and more economic losses.