Unmanned Systems Technology 024 | Wingcopter 178 l 5G focus l UUVs insight l CES report l Stromkind KAT l Intelligent Energy fuel cell l Earthsense TerraSentia l Connectors focus l Advanced Engineering report

74 F or many years now, the bulk of discussions around unmanned systems in agriculture has focused on UAVs. There have been swathes of media coverage about the revolution that aerial data capture could supposedly herald for farmers, and yet the uptake of agricultural survey UASs continues to fall short of predictions. EarthSense, a spin-out from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, is therefore developing its TerraSentia UGV to address the real problems preventing a technology-driven agricultural revolution – quite literally at the ground level. Agriculture bottlenecks Most farming systems these days are based around monocultures, where only a single type of crop is grown. Developing farms that use polycultures however could yield far higher profits for farmers and be much more sustainable in the long run. Growing only one type of crop per field falls outside the natural equilibrium of the grassland-type ecosystem in which most farming takes place, meaning significant amounts of herbicides, fertilisers and other synthetic chemicals are needed to maintain productivity. It also requires specialised vehicles and equipment that can automate the farming of only one type of crop at a time, further pushing the reliance on monocultures. “The TerraSentia was first conceived roughly five years ago, when we were Rory Jackson reports on this new – and potentially game-changing – take on agricultural UGVs Follow that furrow February/March 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology The TerraSentia has been developed to advance the productivity of farming practices by helping plant breeders amass data such as crop stem width, stem height, and leaf area