Main visual representing our blog about "Meet our partner" campaign where we presented The Leibniz-Institut.

Meet our Partner – The Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik und Bioökonomie e.V. (ATB)

The Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik und Bioökonomie e.V. (ATB) is a research institute with a strong engineering background, based in Germany, that focuses on agricultural technology and bioeconomy. It conducts cutting-edge research in the fields of agricultural engineering, sustainable farming practices, and the development of bioeconomic solutions. ATB aims to address global challenges related to food production, resource efficiency, and environmental sustainability. Through its research and innovation, the institute contributes to the development of more efficient and environmentally friendly agricultural practices and the advancement of bioeconomy. ATB actively participates in sensor standardisation committees, sensor system and software development for sensor data analysis, while also promoting their adoption through startup support.

Centers of Competence

ATB encompasses several areas of competence, as presented in the visual below.

Within CrackSense, ATB contributes its proficiency in the Agromechatronics area of competence by the Precision Horticulture Working Group. The scope of Agromechatronics is identifying crucial production parameters to precisely oversee plant cultivation procedures. This involves assessing system conditions in the field, creating models that illustrate the interactions between soil, plants, and the environment, as well as employing adaptable, demand-oriented controls for production processes. To address these intricate research inquiries, ATB leverages expertise from agronomy, electronics, sensor technology, data processing, (geo)statistics, and machine engineering. The primary research objective centers on knowledge-driven diversity management for sustainable intensification in crop production. 

Essential to this goal is timely and spatially specific monitoring of soil and plant conditions, enabling the development of appropriate management strategies. Research insights from plant protection and soil science are furthered to pinpoint process-relevant parameters and guide decision-making and activity planning. Utilizing ATB expertise in electronics and sensor technology, new measurement principles and tailor measurement processes are innovated to suit agricultural needs. In-house profound knowledge of data processing enables successful construction of the intricate physiological and physical models for effective process management. Finally, ATB provides expertise in agricultural engineering to support the basis for automating and optimizing machine operations.

Working group Precision horticulture

The core competence of Precision Horticulture Working Group is on the biomechanical and optical properties of fruit. The daily work focuses on developing methodologies to gather in-situ sensor data concerning fruit or vegetables, for implementation in physiological models, aiming to enhance precise management throughout production and postharvest phases. Their efforts encompass two primary areas: firstly, extracting product-related information from digital sensor signals, and secondly, expanding agronomic models using this digital product data. These applications specifically target product data associated with abiotic stress factors such as alterations in global radiation, temperature fluctuations, and exposure to ethylene. 

Tailoring production processes precisely to the crop’s requirements minimizes resource consumption while maintaining high yields. For instance, fine-tuning thinning intensity in fruit production has demonstrated a reduction in chemical usage, coupled with a yield increase of 5 tonnes of apples per hectare. Utilizing sensor data in sorting, storage, and monitoring shelf-life aids in preserving the quality of perishable fresh produce, thereby optimizing processes throughout the supply chain with the assistance of digital product information.

ATB expertise in CrackSense

The main objectives of CrackSense project empowered by ATB are the following:

• Upscale sensing technologies to collect data at the fruit, tree and plot scales, to enable real-time monitoring of fruit cracking, estimation of yield loss, and risk assessment of cracking incidence.
• Create agri-environmental datasets relevant to fruit cracking by combining and processing-at-the-source (edge computing) multi-source/multi-modal data collected through sensors used in agricultural production and Earth Observation data and
• Upscale the sensing and analysis tools developed, to assess the risk of cracking incidence through piloting activities in a number of agricultural crops in a wide geographical region.

The people at the forefront of the ATB research and innovation in CrackSense are Manuela Zude-SasseNico Tapia-Zapata and Christian Regen, as outlined in the infographic below.

ATB Meet our Partner visual

In CrackSense, ATB leads Work Package 2, Proximal sensing of cracking-related fruit properties and online data provision. The goal of the WP is to provide a proximal sensor system for analysing fruit temperature and detect fruit cracking early symptoms, utilise edge device and computing in pre- and post-processing to enable distribution of temperature and free water assessment estimation and provide fruit-individual mechanistic model by incorporating data on fruit pigments, global radiation, and relative humidity.

Stay tuned for latest updates and project progress and sign up for our newsletter!