Learning, sensing and control with application to agriculture

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Control and robotics2.jpg

DISC-PE&RC Summer School

Learning, sensing and control
with application to agriculture

Sunday 16 -  Friday 21 June 2024

Parkhotel 'de Bosrand', Ede, the Netherlands



ScopeControl and robotics3.jpg

During the past decades, precision technology, robotics and machine intelligence have become increasingly important for farming systems like greenhouses, open field, and animal husbandry. Systems and control methods play a pivotal role in this. Successful and sustainable automation of farm management relies on accurate and reliable monitoring, fault detection, prediction and control.

However, these tasks are generally challenging. A key challenge is providing precise and robust and reliable operation under great variability between and within systems, for example in weather patterns, crop response, soil properties, crop properties, occlusion by leaves, and disease occurrence. Another challenge is formed by great system complexity, comprising physics and biology, large numbers of processes and processes that take place on vastly different time scales. Yet another challenge is to monitor processes for which the variables of interest cannot be measured directly or accurately, such as food quality aspects.

A key opportunity is formed by the combination of control methods and learning methods that employ real-time data streams. Particular areas that have seen substantial development over the past decades are:

  •  Control systems that anticipate future events such as weather and market prices
  •  Controllers that deal with complex networked systems
  • Controllers that learn from live data streams • Controllers that deal with stochastic uncertainty
  • Robotic systems that navigate and apply input autonomously
  • Automated systems that monitor and control food quality before and after harvest

This postgraduate course presents the state-of-the-art methods for the above mentioned methods for various farming applications such as irrigation scheduling, food processing, greenhouse management, and plant harvesting and inspection. The course will consist of lectures from worldwide experts, and hands-on practicals with real life examples.

Course set-up

  1. Course Kick-off : The course starts off Sunday afternoon with an introduction to the course, followed by an ice-breaker key-note address in which the invited speaker will give his/her perspective on how models should be adapted to cope with climate change.
  2. Poster Carousel: After the Sunday dinner there will be a poster carousel in which participants introduce themselves via a poster. Each round lasts 15 minutes (5 minutes introduction and 10 minutes questions and discussion). Posters will remain in the lecture room throughout the course.
  3. Lectures and Discussion: Each day will start off with a set of lectures followed by a discussion in which participants challenge the speaker on the presentation and a paper that the speaker provided prior to the course.
  4. Hands on exercises/practicals: After the morning lectures and discussion, time is reserved for exercises and practicals in which participants can acquaint themselves with novelties in the domain of sensing and control with application to agriculture.
  5. Group work: Afternoons will primarily be spent on group work in which groups of approximately 5 participants will work on tackling a challenge within the domain of  sensing and automation which have been brought forward by the invited speakers. Output of the group work will be presented on Friday morning in 15-minute presentations per group followed by 15 minutes discussion.
Provisional Programme
Sunday 16 June
16:00 - 17:00 Registration and welcome
17:00 - 17:30 Introduction to the course and set-up
17:30 – 18:30 Ice-Breaker Drinks
18:30 – 19:30 Dinner
19:30 - 21:00 Poster carousel
Monday 17 June
8:30 - 12:30 James Taylor Data-based mechanistic and state dependent parameter models with applications in precision agriculture
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 16:00 Exercises/hands-on practicum with James Taylor
16:00 - 17:00 Stef Maree - Autonomous greenhouse control: from academia to practice
17:00 – 18:30 Free time
18:30 – 20:00 Dinner
Tuesday 18 June
8:30 - 12:30 Koty McAllister - Economic Model Predictive Control for Intelligent Greenhouse Control
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 16:00 Group work 
16:00 - 17:00 Congcong Sun - Intelligent Control for Agri-food Production
17:00 – 18:30 Free time
18:30 – 20:00 Dinner
Wednesday 19 June
8:30 - 12:30 Abeje Mersha - Unmanned Robotic Systems
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 16:00 Group work 
16:00 - 17:00 Meichen Guo - Data-driven control
17:00 – 18:30 Free time
18:30 – 20:00 Dinner
Thursday 20 June
8:30 - 12:30 Raphael Linker - Optimization Techniques for Crop Models: Frameworks, Methods, and Challenges
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 17:00 Group work 
17:00 – 18:30 Free time
18:30 – 19:30 Dinner
Friday 21 June
8:30 - 12:00 Synthesis of group work
12:00 - 13:00 Lunch
13:00 – 15:00 Tour campus (optional) or goodbye
15:00 – 17:00 Drinks in Orion
Course Speakers
Course Organisers
General information
Target Group PhD candidates or junior researchers
Course duration 5 days
Language of instruction English
Number of credits 1. 5 ECTS
Prior knowledge Participants should have knowledge of robotics, sensing and control
Location Hotel de Bosrand, Ede
Fees 1
PE&RC  / WIMEK / WASS / EPS / VLAG / WIAS PhD and EngD candidates € 360,- € 410,-
DISC PhD candidates, PE&RC Postdocs and staff € 720,- € 770,-
All other academic participants € 800,- € 850,-
Non academic participants € 1500,- € 1550,-

1 The course fee includes accommodation and catering (breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee/tea) but excludes beverages
2 The Early-Bird Fee applies to anyone who REGISTERS ON OR BEFORE 21 APRIL 2024

  • If you need an invoice to complete your payment, please send an email to office.pe@wur.nl, including ALL relevant details that should be mentioned on the invoice (e.g., purchase order no., specific addresses, attendees, etc.).
  • The Early-Bird policy is such that the moment of REGISTRATION (and not payment) is leading for determining the fee that applies to you.
  • Please make sure that your payment is arranged within two weeks after your registration.
  • It is the participant's responsibility to make sure that he/she (or his/her secretary) completes the payment correctly and in time.
PE&RC Cancellation Conditions
  • Up to 4 (four) weeks prior to the start of the course, cancellation is free of charge.
  • Up to 2 (two) weeks prior to the start of the course, 50% of the course fee of  will be charged.
  • In case of cancellation within two weeks prior to the start of the course or no show, 100% of the participation fee will be charged.

Note: If you would like to cancel your registration, ALWAYS inform us and do not assume that by NOT paying the participation fee, your registration is automatically cancelled, because it isn't (and do note that you will be kept to the cancellation conditions).

More information

Claudius van de Vijver (PE&RC)
Email: claudius.vandevijver@wur.nl


To register, please enter your details below and click "Register".