News and Events - 2018

News and Upcoming Events

Dr. Yuxin Miao talks Nitrogen Management with the Societies

Nitrogen management is an active area of research at the UMN Precision Agriculture Center (PAC). In a recent article published by the Agronomy, Soils, and Crop Science Societies; Dr. Miao describes some of the progress being made in recent research efforts for N management through the use of sensing technology. 

N management

A student uses the GreenSeeker active canopy sensor to collect canopy reflectance data. The collected data will help determine the crop’s nitrogen status. Photo credit Guohui Feng.
Read the full article here.

Dr. Yuxin Miao is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota and the current Associate Director of the UMN PAC. Dr. Miao conducts research related to nutrient management, remote sensing, crop growth modeling. 

30 October 2018 - Please participate in the Minnesota Geospatial Priorities Survey before Nov 6

The MN Geospatial Advisory Council (GAC) is defining statewide geospatial priorities for 2019, and needs your input.  The GAC is asking members of the Minnesota geospatial professional community to respond to a short survey about geospatial needs.  The survey will be open through November 6.

Link to Survey


Why does the GAC create priorities?

  1. To create a voice for the Minnesota geospatial community
  2. To direct work plans of the GAC and its committees
  3. To recommend priorities to MnGeo
  4. To allow other organizations to compare priorities and align efforts
  5. To inform outreach and policy related efforts
  6. Having clear direction helps motivate people to participate

See 2018 GAC work plan and list of priorities.

There’s some great questions on spatial data overall, and some crucial questions on LiDAR.  This support is needed for extremely high resolution and high quality LiDAR data on the state's next collection campaign, which would be beneficial for precision agriculture research and tenchnology transfer moving forward.

11 October 2018 - Precision Agriculture Center Seminar Announcement

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 | 12 PM | Soils Building, Room 415

LiDAR in Minnesota – Status and Applications

joel-nelsonJoel Nelson | CFANS GIS User-Support | Dept. of Soil, Water, and Climate | Soil and Landscape Analysis Laboratory | University of Minnesota 

About the Seminar - With the growing use of remote sensing technologies, many researchers have become familiar with LiDAR data, but its role in Precision Agriculture has not yet been defined. Joel Nelson will highlight Minnesota's available Lidar data, where to get it, and how to use it in ArcGIS. Various terrain analysis outputs from SPI and CTI along with their catchments will be highlighted to provide a better understanding of this data.  Nelson will also highlight and facilitate discussion regarding the opportunities for implementing Lidar applications in Precision Agriculture.

About the speaker - Joel Nelson has been working in GIS for over 15 years. He has an MS degree in GIS from the University of Minnesota and currently manages the Soil and Landscape Analysis Laboratory for the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota, where he specializes in LiDAR and other high-resolution elevation data. Joel has served as an active member of the Minnesota LiDAR Research and Education Committee since its inception in 2010.
Since 2007, Joel has delivered more than 100 seminars, workshops, and talks about LiDAR for a wide range of state agencies, local government offices, and university organizations. He teaches a variety of basic and advanced LiDAR workshops targeted toward resource professionals interested in using LiDAR to perform an array of landscape and hydrologic processing techniques. These workshops have been developed in partnership with US Geological Survey, US Army Corps of Engineers, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and others. He helped develop and implement the highly successful Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) LiDAR training project entitled “Conservation Applications of LiDAR.” He has also contributed to efforts of the Minnesota LiDAR Research and Education Committee to develop universally applicable LiDAR training workshops.
Seminar hosted by the Precision Agriculture Center 

5 September 2018 - Seminar announcement

Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 3 PM | Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Building, Room 225

Robot-Assisted Data Collection in Cyber-Physical-Human Systems for Agriculture

peschelJoshua Peschel | Assistant Professor | Dept. of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering | Iowa State University

Abstract - Smart cyber-physical-human infrastructure has traditionally focused on the urban environment with applications related to water, energy, and transportation infrastructure. In this talk, Dr. Peschel will expand the definition of infrastructure to include agricultural and natural systems and present a suite of new robot-assistive technologies that leverage robotics and computer vision to broaden sensing and sense-making across these three different types of environments. Demonstrative case studies in each type of system will be presented, including robot-assisted measurements for water resources and applications for aerial telemanipulation. The material covered will illustrate how the strategic, user-focused design of robotics and automated systems to accomplish unique environmental data collection can enable better informed decision-making. This talk will be of interest to researchers and practitioners working in fields that include the agricultural and biological sciences, civil and environmental engineering, and computer science.

About the speaker Dr. Joshua Peschel is an assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and Black & Veatch Faculty Fellow at Iowa State University. He also holds courtesy appointments in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Civil, Construction and Environmental 38Engineering. Dr. Peschel conducts research in the field of study he has founded called human-infrastructure interaction, which focuses on the evaluation, understanding, and design of co-evolving smart infrastructure systems. He broadly defines infrastructure to include agricultural, natural, and urban environments, and his work involves creating new technologies, data sets, and computational models for sensing and sensemaking in these three very different but often interconnected systems. His research program and students have been generously supported by the National Science Foundation, U.S. departments of Defense and Energy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a number of private industry partners.

Seminar hosted by the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

5 September 2018 - North Central Extension-Industry Soil Fertility Conference registration is now open


All are invited to attend this year's conference and enjoy special interest speakers, guaranteed networking, and an overall significant experience.

Highlights of this year's conference include:

See the tentative agenda and complete registration here.

4 September 2018 - Dr. Gerrit Hoogenboom to speak at University of Minnesota and the Southern Research & Outreach Center



Applied Plant Sciences Seminar in Saint Paul, MN

Monday, September 17 | 3:30 PM | 306 Borlaug Hall (Saint Paul)

Advances in Crop Simulation Modeling - From Basic Research to Practical Applications

Abstract - During the past decades, computer models that predict crop growth, development, and yield have become an integral part of agricultural research, outreach, and education. These simulation models have been implemented for many different spatial and temporal applications, ranging from gene-based crop modeling to climate change impact assessment and adaptation studies for policay recommendations. In this seminar, Dr. Hoogenboom will present a general overview of crop modeling and provide some specific applications of the international modeling platform DSSAT (Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer).


Sustainable Cropping Systems Seminar in Waseca, MN

Tuesday, September 18 | 10:00 AM | Conference room, SROC (Waseca)

Crop Modeling as a Tool for Research and Extension

Abstract - Crop simulation models are a relatively new discipline in the field of agriculture. In general, crop simulation models can be used to predict the dynamic interaction between Genotype, Environment, and Management. When interfaced with decision support systems, crop models can also be linked to the economic components of the agricultural production system. Following evaluation with local experimental data, the crop models can be used to evaluate short- and long-term management practices for local environmental conditions. In this seminar, Dr. Hoogenboom will present a general overview of crop modeling and specific applications of the international modeling platform DSSAT (Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer).


Dr. Gerrit HoogenboomDr. Gerrit Hoogenboom | Preeminent Scholar, Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, University of Florida Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida

About the speaker - Dr. Gerrit Hoogenboom is a Preeminent Scholar in the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, and Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida, USA. Prior to joining the University of Florida, he was the Director of the AgWeatherNet Program and Professor of Agrometeorology at Washington State University. He has over 25 years of experience in the development of crop simulation models and decision support systems. Applications range from freeze forecasting to climate variability and climate change, water resources management, biofuels, economic and environmental sustainability, and food security. He currently coordinates the development of DSSAT, a crop modeling system that is being used world-wide by many scientists and others interested in systems analysis and decision support. He received his Ph.D. from Auburn University, M.S. in Theoretical Production Ecology and M.S. and B.S. in Horticulture from Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

About the seminars – The seminars are a joint effort of the Cropping Systems research groups at the Southwest and Southern Research and Outreach Centers led by Axel Garcia y Garcia and Gregg Johnson, respectively. Our goal is to generate sound debate on current and future cropping systems that increase profitability and resiliency, improve resource use efficiency, and contribute to environmental quality.

For more information, please contact Dr. Garcia y Garcia,, 507-752-5080 or Dr. Johnson,, 507 837 5617.

7 August 2018 - LAAS 5480: Precision Agriculture and Nutrient Management Course

A reminder that LAAS 5480 is a new course that will be offered this fall. Please share the flyer below with any students that may potentially be interested in the taking the course, and inquire with Dr. Yuxin Miao if to see a tentative syllabus.


3 August 2018 - UMN PAC hosted visitors from the Precision Agriculture Center at China Agricultural University

We were honored to host members of the CAU Precision Ag Center to share current work and discuss opportunities for future collaboration! 

Members of the China Agricultural University Precision Agriculture Center visited the UMN PAC. Pictured from left to right are: (front) Ali Moghimi, Pete Marchetto, Minli Yang, Ce Yang, Minzan Li, Aman Ullah Bhatti, David Mulla, Yuxin Miao, Cadan Cummings, (back) Ruicheng Qiu, Chenglong Zhang, Hui Shao, Hong Sun, Han Li, Wei Yang, Gang Liu, Man Zhang, and Tyler Nigon.

3 August 2018 - Congratulations to Leanna Leverich on the successful defense of her M.S. research!

Leanna Leverich successfully defended her M.S. reseach, "Influences of management and environment on phosphorus leaching in agricultural soils". Leanna was advised by Dr. Dan Kaiser in the Applied Plant Sciences graduate program. She will be sticking around to study in the Land and Atmospheric Science graduate program for her Ph.D, and will be advised by Dr. Yuxin Miao.

Congratulations to Leanna Leverich on successful defense of her M.S. research!

27 June 2018 - Congratulations to University of Minnesota students at the International Conference on Precision Agriculture!

Brian Bohman, Tyler Nigon, and Xinbing Wang received the ISPA Outstanding Graduate Student Award and were honored at the awards ceremony during the Tuesday Luncheon at the 14th ISPA in Montreal. The purpose of this award is to recognize graduate student achievement, training, preparation, and research in the area of precision agriculture. Ten graduate students that presented their research at the 14th ICPA were recognized, each receiving waived conference registration fees and $500 cash award. 

University of Minnesota students received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award and were recognized at the 14th ICPA. Pictured (from left to right) are David Mulla, Tyler Nigon, Brian Bohman, Xinbing Wang, and Yuxin Miao.

4 May 2018 - New course offering: LAAS 5480 - Precision Agriculture and Nutrient Management

The Precision Agriculture and Nutrient Management class will be offered under LAAS 5480: Special Topics in Land and Atmospheric Sciences. It is now listed in the system and can be found at this link.

The time of the class is: Thursday, 3:05 - 4:45 PM in Soil 415. Both graduate and upper level undergraduate students can take it. Hope to see some of you in the class!

18 Apil 2018 - 16th Annual Conference of Nitrogen Use Efficiency

This year, the annual NUE Conference will be take place at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS from Monday, July 30 to Wednesday, August 1. The goal of this conference is to provide a space to share ongoing research, develop rich and meaningful interactions that sometimes are not possible during larger conferences, and create long lasting connections between scientists of different generations. Visit the website for more information about the conference, including a schedule and registration and lodging infromation. 

3 Apil 2018 - USDA Precision Ag Workshop May 15-17 at CSU, Fort Collins, CO

The USDA has provided a multi-state grant to Colorado State University to host a precision agriculture workshop targeted for 20 faculty members from 1890 and 1994 land grant institutions during the week of May 14th on CSU campus in Fort Collins, CO. Please forward to any faculty members who may benefit from this workshop. Most travel expenses are covered by the USDA grant. 

29 March 2018 - Congratulations to Andy Scobbie on new position!

March 30th will be Andy's last day with the Dept. of Soil, Water, & Climate Field Crew. Andy has been with the Field Crew for over 30 years, and he was instrumental in shaping the Field Crew into the productive program it is today. Andy has always been an early adopter of new technology in agriculture, and we would like to express gratitude for all he has done to help students and faculty carry out precision agriculture research trials over the years.

We congratulate Andy and wish him the best of luck in his new position with the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station!

22 March 2018 - Precision Agriculture Center Seminar Series

Thanks to everyone that attended and participated in today's seminar! A special thanks to Brian Bohman for presenting his work on remote sensing for predicting the nitrogen nutrition index in potato.
We encourage everyone to draft a blog-style post about any aspect of your research so we can get more content up on the PAC website. Remember - include a summary, keep it short and simple, and include plenty of photos and figures. Send your draft to Yuxin or Tyler to get it published on the website.
Thanks to the following students for volunteering with the website:

We'd like to publish an inventory of equipment across the diverse research groups at the University of Minnesota. Please email Gabriel a list of equipment that your lab group has - if possible, please include photos and/or links to the manufacturer's website(s).

Several students discussed research plans for the 2018 season - hopefully connections were made to foster collaboration and data sharing to get the most out of our research efforts!
PAC Seminar 20180322

12 March 2018 - "Remote Sensing for Precision Nitrogen Management"

Special issue in Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing is an open access journal about the science and application of remote sensing technology, and is published monthly. Dr. Yuxin Miao is organizing a special issue in Remote Sensing, together with Dr. David Mulla and Dr. Raj Khosla, that will focus on remote sensing for precision nitrogen management. We encourage anyone working on research in this area to keep this special issue in mind - the deadline for manuscript submissions is 31 December 2019.

Please visit this page for more information about suitable content and/or topics for the special issue.

1 March 2018 - Precision Agriculture Center Seminar Series

We will begin the PAC Seminar on Thursday, March 1. We will meet from 12 - 1 PM in Soils room 415.

The agenda of this first meeting is to share with others what everyone is interested in and working on. We would like to use this opportunity to get to know more about each other and to discuss details about future seminars (to get a more formal schedule in place). As this time may run over your lunch hour, please feel free to bring your lunch to the seminar.


Our first meeting resulted in constructive discussion regarding the future direction of the PAC seminar, as well as the PAC in general. Thanks to all that attended for their participation!
First seminar

28 February 2018 - Welcome Cadan Cummings!

Cadan Cummings-largeCadan was recently accepted into the Land and Atmospheric Science M.S. graduate program, and will begin working on his research with Dr. Yuxin Miao on May 28th. Cadan will be investigating the use of remote sensing for precision nitrogen management of corn cropping systems.

Cadan is from Wisconsin and was raised near the rural community of Viroqua in the heart of the Driftless Region. Being raised in an agriculturally centered community, he was motivated to attend University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Agronomy with a Certificate in Environmental Studies. In addition to plant science, Cadan enjoys cross-country skiing and learning astronomy. We're looking forward to your arrival, Cadan!

27 February 2018 - U of M licenses technology to monitor crop nitrogen status to ag-tech firm Sentera

Sentera, a Minneapolis-based supplier of technology solutions to the agriculture industry, has signed an agreement to bring University of Minnesota-developed corn nitrogen deficiency technology to the market. The technology allows growers to more precisely match applied nitrogen fertilizer to the optimal needs of the crop. Minimizing over-application of nutrients saves money; reduces the risk of fertilizer runoff into lakes, streams and rivers; and preserves crop yield. Under an exclusive agreement, Sentera will integrate the capability into their FieldAgent™ Platform, a software using drone technology to advance precision agriculture. The company will begin field trials with several of its largest customers this year, with commercial rollout planned for 2019. Read more...

Sentera and U of M Team Up

6 February 2018 - CFANS Diversity Scholars Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

We are pleased to announce that the 2018-2019 College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) Diversity Scholars program is open for applications (due April 2nd, 2018). This is a great profesional development opportunity for postdoctoral candidates to participate in activities related to teaching, research program development, competitive grant writing, and supervision of students and staff through the Precision Agriculture Center.
More information about the program can be found here.
We encourage those eligible to apply for this funding to get an opportunity to work through the Precision Agriculture Center!

23 January 2018 - Congratulations Dimitris!

Congratulations to Dimitris Zermas for successfully defending his disertation in the Computer Science Ph.D. program! Dimitris was co-advised by Prof. David Mulla and Prof.  Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos and has accepted a job with Sentera.

Dimitris after Thesis Defense


The University of Minnesota established the Precision Agriculture Center in 1995 to foster the use of site specific management techniques through collaborative research, education, and outreach programs. 

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