Image of Smart Farming

The world's population is expected to increase from the current 7.8 billion to 10 billion in 2050. This requires a significant increase in food production. With smart farming, more food is produced using cleaner energy and less resources.

14 Apr 2021 - 31 Dec 2024


About the project

This project is a part of NMBU's sustainability arenas 2021- 2024. 

Smart farming means:

  • Development and use of digital tools for necessary planning systems in agriculture
  • Precision agriculture (site- and time specific treatment)
  • Automation in agriculture using robots and other autonomous solutions
  • Smart agriculture and green innovation mean sustainable and tailored agriculture; from optimum plant varieties, adapted tillage and sowing, optimized growth conditions through site- and time-specific fertilization, irrigation and pest control, which all together produce larger and qualitatively better yields.

    This is ensured by collecting and processing vital data, develop proper algorithms for time- and site-specific control, as well as adapted application using VRA (volume rate application) technology and position control (GNSS / RTK-GPS). Increased biological diversity and crop production are achieved at the same time as the risk of environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, run-off, erosion and accumulation of harmful substances is reduced.

    Sustainability also includes the use of clean energy and economical solutions that minimize total costs in terms of equipment, capacity and time consumption. Emphasis is placed on circular economy.

    Smart landbruk ved NMBU
    Smart landbruk ved NMBU Photo: Morten Lillemo

    Why is smart farming important for Norwegian agriculture and NMBU right now?

    • Greater access to vital instantaneous data (through IoT sensors, image data from satellites, drones and / or robot / tractor and other sensor data)
    • Increased computing power to be able to process large amounts of data and the use of AI.
    • More efficient communication systems (strong development into data cloud solutions, 5G, blockchain etc.)
    • Exact position in the field over time and place (GNSS / RTK-GPS down to 1-2 cm accuracy, camera, laser, etc.) that together with data analysis provides adapted VRA (GIS maps).

    Before the establishment of the Smart Farming arena, the different research groups have been widely scattered around on the NMBU campus with minor coordinated common project tasks. We have discussed the need for stronger cooperation over several years, without previously necessary incentives for further development.

    Our goal is to create an arena for exchange of ideas and interdisciplinary activities that can bind this professional environment closer together and make it strong and robust for the future. REALTEK, MINA and BIOVIT have also been granted their common application for NMBU research infrastructure for 2021; "Sensor platform within Smart Farming / Precision Agriculture at NMBU" of NOK 1.4 million) which is an important contribution to this work.

    We also have carried out some former interdisciplinary projects that can be gathered under the Smart Farming umbrella, especially within agricultural robots (Thorvald), image analysis and use of drones in phenotyping.

    Smart landbruk med droner på NMBU
    Smart landbruk med droner på NMBU. Photo: Morten Lillemo
  • The sustainability arena within Smart Agriculture and Green Innovation aims to gather, further develop and strengthen the scientific competence within the domains at NMBU with emphasis on the faculties REALTEK, BIOVIT and MINA together with SKP and SHF. This will be done by strengthening education, research and innovation.

    An important tool will be the establishment of the Green Innovation Student Lab - a place where master's and PhD students together with researchers across different disciplines and together with relevant external partners can further develop ideas and create larger or smaller projects and innovations as well for research-based teaching. Together, researchers will establish joint projects that will ensure a more sustainable and competitive Norwegian agriculture.

    A realistic goal will be to form a center (SFI) within Smart Farming and Green Innovation at NMBU and create a broad research environment that will continue to further develop the subject area even after the period of this arena. Academic research groups within robotics & drones, precision agriculture, GNSS and GIS mapping, sensors, image analysis, data science, phenotyping, plant science, fertilizer science as well as soil science are included in the team, which can also be expanded within other domains if needed.