2nd NFTN conference 2024

The 2nd Nordic Field Trial Network (NFTN) conference took place on the SLU Campus in Uppsala on 7/8. February. 2024.

Welcome to a conference on 'Innovations on technical possibilities in field trials'.

Over 2 days, 70 people networked within field trials inspired by 14 presenters. Very intense and very innovative. Below, the input of the individual speakers is retained as PDF documents, while the dialogue across is reserved for the participants. However, feel free to take the chance and contact a presenter if you spot opportunities for future collaboration.


Robotics in crop farming - pest monitoring approaches using machine learning and machine vision techniques
The integration of digitalization and robotics has improved crop monitoring practices, with notable advancements in the domain of pest monitoring. The development of smart robotic systems in crop farming enables a more efficient application of pesticides, ensuring they are used in the right quantity and locations. Therefore, cutting-edge monitoring technologies such as machine learning and various optical sensors in agricultural robots for identification and classification of pests and non-pest insects will be presented.
Speaker: Abozar Nasirahmadi, SLU (confirmed)

Can we leave field trials to the machines?
Vehicles steering on their own can potentially allowed more precise agriculture and agricultural tests. Summary of experience of testing self-driving agricultural vehicles and plans for their use in a new project ‘Rotational cereal with permanent bottom crops’, where they will be used in an intercropping system.
Speaker: Gunnar Larsson, SLU (confirmed)

Autonomy in experimental work for practical handling of tasks in field trials.
Can you imagine a machine for experimental work which sets off the plot design itself, drills, applying fertilizes and spraying solutions – without manual control? TS Agro and Hushållningssällskapet will present the sketches of a self-propelled plotseeder that places fertilizer from a seeding box or bag, drills the crop from a seeding box or bag in one and the same machine, which is expected to be ready by March 2025
Speakers: Morten Nygaard, TS Agro and Sven-Åke Rydell, Hushållningssällskapet (confirmed)

How can drones replace time-consuming manual (and not accurate) registrations in field trials?
In this session, we will give a Nordic status on the use of drones for registration work in field trials. For example, counting spikes in the plots.
Speaker: Thomas Nitschke, Danish Technological Institute (confirmed)

How can drones contribute to plant breeding, and what advancements do they bring to the field? 
I will present a few examples from our work on how drone image analysis with advanced algorithms can accelerate decision-making and increase efficiency of plant breeding programs.
Speaker: Aakash Chawade, SLU (confirmed)

What can you register with different drone cameras?
Various types of cameras are used by drones. You want that collected data is comparable between different flight sessions and preferably also between different cameras. We have compared a number of cameras and calibration methods to evaluate whether there are differences in the results.
Speakers: Mats Söderström, SLU och Igor Tihonov, Solvi (confirmed)

Field trials through image analysis of drone photo
We will share the uses and possibilities we see with drone photos in field trials after the work with the project "Improved evaluation of official field trials through image analysis of drone photos with machine learning".
Speakers: Pernilla Wahlquist and Ulrika Dyrlund Martinsson, Hushållningssällskapet (confirmed)

Reliable herbicide dose-response curves with logarithmic application and drone image analysis
How to extract growth indexes to use in as response in logarithmic dose-response trials with Open Source software R, and generate dose response curves with the packages FieldImageR and DRC
Speaker: Martin Gejl, AgroLab (confirmed)

OnFarmPlus: large-scale, sensor-intensive multi-plot field trials for testing of biostimulants and precision farming techniques
Biostimulants and precision farming techniques claim to improve outputs or mitigate negative side-effects in agricultural crop production due to an area-specific mode-of-action: the right thing at the right spot. This claim is difficult to address within the classical field trial setting, where trials typically are conducted on homogeneous high-productivity areas. Here, we present the OnFarmPlus trial concept that has been developed to address the differential treatment effect of biostimulants and precision farming techniques as a function of environmental conditions on a heterogeneous trial area.
Speaker: Philipp Trenél, Danish Technological Institute (confirmed)

Silencing the plant pests: The Revolutionary Role of Spray-Induced Gene Silencing in Plant Disease Control
Plant diseases poses a significant threat to global food security, necessitating innovative approaches for effective disease management. I will introduce the groundbreaking technique, Spray-Induced Gene Silencing (SIGS), as a potent strategy to combat plant pathogens. SIGS leverages RNA interference (RNAi) technology, enabling the targeted silencing of specific genes in plant pathogens. The method involves spraying double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules designed to match the genetic sequences of harmful pathogens directly onto plant surfaces. Upon contact, these dsRNA molecules trigger a gene silencing response in the pathogen, effectively impeding its ability to cause disease without altering the plant's own genetic makeup. I will also talk about the effectiveness of SIGS in controlling various plant diseases and the practical aspects of implementing SIGS, including the stability and delivery of dsRNA in field conditions, and the economic feasibility of this approach.
Speaker: Ramesh Vetukuri, SLU (confirmed)

How can precision agriculture techniques contribute to the breeding for low grain cadmium content in cereals?
In our project, we employ soil sensors to estimate soil variables (such as clay content, organic matter content, pH, and Cd) within each plot of a field. The objective is to enhance the prediction accuracy of Cd grain content by accounting for variations in these variables within and across fields.
Speakers: Therése Bengtsson, SLU and Mats Söderström, SLU (confirmed)


Do the big challenges of the future require new experimental designs?
The challenges of the future such as biodiversity, climate emissions, extreme weather, precision agriculture, forest farming, mix cropping are probably require rethinking of experimental designs. Participate in this round table discussion with both questions and ideas for solutions.
Facilitator: Philipp Trénel

Greater outcome of drones in the field trials
We will begin by allowing the participants to share their experiences with drones and their ideas for future use. This will likely stimulate a fruitful discussion around opportunities and potential pitfalls.
Facilitator: Thomas Nitschke

This conferencen is dedicated to everyone with an interest in field trials and a desire to learn and develop methods. It starts with a welcome dinner the evening before the actual program.

Sensor techniques for measurements in field trials
We do apply many different sensor techniques for measurements in field trials, either to replace costly lab analysis, visual assessments or to measure parameters that couldn’t be measured otherwise (e.g. “envirotyping”). These measurements come with challenges such as establishing routines, data quality, representativeness and maybe acceptance by the scientific community. This round table discussion aims to provide a platform for exchange of knowledge and experiences.  
Facilitator: Ortrud Jäck

Shaping the Future of Autonomous Field Trials
Join us for a dynamic roundtable discussion centered on the future of autonomous machines in field trials. Participants will have the opportunity to suggest ideas and ask quistions regarding the machine's construction, sensor integration, task assignment, and weight handling capacity. This is a unique chance to contribute to the evolution of autonomous agricultural operations in future Field Tirals.
Facilitator: Morten Nygaard


Conference dinner: 2024-02-07, 19:00-22:00
Conference: 2024-02-08 8:30 - 15:30
Venue: SLU Campus Uppsala

Organiser: SLU Fältforsk, Sweden; Danish Technological Institute, SEGES Innovation, Denmark; and NIBIO, Norway