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Agrifood technology

Imec explores new sensing, analytics, and decision support tools by combining innovative hardware and data science. The goal: technology-based sustainable and healthy food production for an ever-growing population.

If you’re in the agriculture and food industry, you’re probably aware of the grand challenges ahead. Foremost: feeding the world’s growing population in a healthy, sustainable, and efficient way.

To do so, exploring and validating innovative solutions will be key. Major breakthroughs are expected through a combination of hardware, data science, and innovations with artificial intelligence.  

Imec is here to help you. In the OnePlanet Research Center, our engineers team up with Wageningen University & Research – one of the world’s premier universities in agriculture and food research – and Radboud University and Radboud University Medical Center with recognized leadership in Health and AI.

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Partnering and doing research with us will give your organization a long-term competitive edge.

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Sensor technologies for agrifood

Within the OnePlanet Research initiative, we’re developing solutions at the interface of agrifood and chip and digital technology. Our team works on collecting and combining data on nitrogen emissions, precision agriculture, the greenhouse of the future, food processing and food quality. OnePlanet does all this with the help of existing and new sensor technologies, which are validated in practice.

Some of the highlights of imec’s R&D in sensors technologies:

  • sensing with high precision and sensitivity
  • exploration of new imaging and sensing solutions (impedance tomography, hyperspectral imaging, mmWave sensing, microneedles, …)
  • compact, low-power sensor platforms
  • custom development and low-volume manufacturing of custom sensors

Hyperspectral imaging for precision agriculture

Precision agriculture, satellite farming, or site-specific crop management (SSCM) are based on observing, measuring, and responding to the variability of crops in and between fields. The goal is to optimize the crop returns while at the same time finely managing the water and nutrients needed, eliminating harmful weeds, and minimizing the use of pesticides and the harmful emissions.

For efficient precision agriculture, the challenge is to enable monitoring that is sufficiently fine-grained and sensitive (parts per billion). As one of its sensor solutions, imec has developed a line of hyperspectral imagers and super-lightweight cameras, for example for use in drones and satellites. In combination with neuromorphic chips and artificial intelligence, these can extract a wealth of live actionable knowledge from the surveillance of fields and forests, for example identifying harmful weeds or drought spots.

Hyperspectral aerial images of strawberry test fields

Hyperspectral aerial images of strawberry test fields in Belgium – Courtesy of VITO and pcfruit.

As imec’s hyperspectral imaging technology is developed fully in-house, we can also realize custom hyperspectral image sensors, with your desired pattern lay-out, filter specification, imager chip, ... all the way up to the design of the complete camera system.

If you want to learn more on snapshot hyperspectral imaging for farming, check out our white paper.

Boost your agrifood products and applications pipeline by collaborating with imec

Creating new data-driven models to boost agriculture, and building the sensors and sensor networks to profit from those models, is a huge undertaking. It can only be accomplished through collaboration and a strong ecosystem such as imec and OnePlanet.

Taking it one step further ­– designing and getting to market new products such as sensors and sensor networks, and adding the necessary intelligence – is not trivial. It requires access to IP, R&D expertise, partnerships, prototyping and testing facilities, and a means to scale up the production as required. Imec has experienced teams that are ready to help you, whether it's with one aspect or with a full development.

Want to partner with us to develop the agrifood solutions of the future? Here are but a few of the many possibilities:

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