DISC-PE&RC Summer School 2024 - Learning, sensing and control with application to agriculture

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 Summer School 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.
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
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 Lecture James Taylor, discussion and exercises/hands-on practicum
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 16:00 Forming of groups and formulation of million dollar problem per group
16:00 – 17:00 Lecture Meichen Guo and discussion
17:00 – 18:30 Free time
18:30 – 20:00 Dinner
Tuesday 18 June
8:30 – 12:30 Lecture Koty McAllister, discussion and exercises/hands on practicum
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 16:00 Group work on million dollar questions
16:00 – 17:00 Lecture Congcong Sun
17:00 – 18:30 Free time
18:30 – 20:00 Dinner
Wednesday 19 June
8:30 – 12:30 Lecture Abeje Mersha, discussion and exercises/hands on practicum
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 16:00 Group work on million dollar questions
16:00 – 17:00 Lecture Gert Kootstra
17:00 – 18:30 Free time
18:30 – 20:00 Dinner
Thursday 20 June
8:30 – 12:30 Lecture Raphael Linker, discussion and exercises/hands on practicum
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 17:00 Group work on million dollar questions
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

Information on the fees can be found by the registration form.

Early bird deadline is 21-04-2024

More information

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