Robotic Controls in Agriculture


ROCONA, Inc. is a privately held company dedicated to the development of support technologies for agriculture.


Current R&D projects include the following:


I. Development of an autonomous tractor




Development of a robotic tractor that utilizes lidar for guidance, rather than GPS. Lidar continually maps the inherent structure of a permanently plant field (trees, shrubs vines) and navigates the tractor through the “open” path between the rows of plants.


Featured in POPULAR MECHANICS, September 2006




Deployment of robotic tractor into the field in 2009.



II. Integration of digital sensors into a computer-controlled irrigation system



Buried soil moisture sensor (left) and stem diameter, fruit diameter and leaf temperature sensors (column on right) collect information on water availability and the onset of plant stress from water deficiency or other natural causes.



Field sensors are hard-wired to a sensor control box which contains a programmable logic controller (PLC) and is connected to a solar power source. The data are then transmitted to the irrigation control center by way of a radio telemetry system.




Field data are transmitted wirelessly to a control computer to schedule irrigation and deliver appropriate amounts of fertilizer. Universal access to the system allows for program control from a computer located anywhere in the world.


III. Adaptation of remote sensing instrumentation for use in agricultural field situations





Field testing of an experimental plant health sensor which has the capacity to determine Brix level (sugar) of fruit nondestructively using visible and near infrared spectral signatures. Research is expanding to also examine the potential for detecting internal freeze damage (granulation) to citrus fruit that is otherwise not visible to the eye.




Research has also begun that uses visible and near infrared spectral signatures to identify specific pest infestations or disease conditions on fruit and leaves in the field.


Finally, ROCONA is also an authorized dealer of quality soil moisture and plant physiology sensors from the following companies:


Sentek Sensor Technologies


Australian based Sentek Sensor Technologies has revolutionized soil moisture, fertilizer and salinity management with its range of sensing solutions. Sentek's technology is used to visualize the invisible dynamics of the plant-water-salt-soil-atmosphere interactions into easy to understand pictures that irrigators use to manage their day-to-day irrigation, fertigation and salinity requirements. The products have applications in agriculture, turf, mining and environmental management.



Phytech Ltd.


Phytech (Israel) is a pioneer and a leader in Phytomonitoring™; the practice of remote sensing and monitoring of plants. Their advanced solutions use state-of-the-art sensors, wireless communication, and innovative software for collecting and analyzing data. These systems improve crop production and reduce cultivation costs by providing timely and accurate information regarding the physiological status of the plants and identifying stress conditions before they impact the plant or the fruit.



For more information on our products or services please contact us at:


ROCONA, Inc.

1425 S. Ash St.

Casper, Wyoming 82601

Phone: 307-259-4050

www.rocona.com



Bryan L. Aivazian, President

bryana@rocona.com




Last Revised: November 30, 2009