Autonomous Navigation and Mapping with Small Drones
Stefan Leutenegger
Department of Computing, Imperial College London, UK

The use of drones for crop monitoring seems and interesting and viable choice, since small drones have undergone a commercial explosion in the last few years. Remote controlling them or having them in GPS-based automatic control mode far enough from terrain/structure has acheived maturity. However, many challenges remain when it comes to operation in close proximity to terrain/obstacles, people, and in GPS-denied environments. This is very much linked to the non-trivial nature of localisation and mapping under these circumstances. In this talk, some recent progress on robust and accurate vision-based localisation of drones will be presented, along with new apporaches to produce ever higher resolution and even semanitcally meaningful maps that enable autonomous navigation of drones. Ultimately, the same mapping techniques may be used in the context of monitoring crop health in real-time. 

Towards delivering locally-optimised agronomy... at scale
Stephen Aston
One Acre Fund, Rwanda

One Acre Fund (1AF) serves over 400,000 farming families across East Africa, providing financing, distribution for agricultural technologies, and training on their use. Clients roughly double their yeilds on average, but divergence in agronomic variables means that farmers receiving the same guidance and inputs can experience widely different yield outcomes.

Optimisation of basic agronomy at a more granular scale as enourmous potential to significantly increase yields. Achieving this requires transferring to farmers, detailed knowledge on local agronomic variables, including crop disease. 1AF is working to (i) develop data systems & analytical tools to convert knowledge into geospatially-differentiaed agronomic recommendations, and (ii) operationalise the delivery of management zone-specific products and services. 

Low-cost sensing with paper-based devices
Firat Güder
Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, UK

Paper is a ubiquitous, biodegradable, and porous material which is an ideal substrate for the fabrication of affordable sensors, primarily through printing. Unlike its conventional counterparts, paper-based microfluidic do not require pumps and other complex components, allowing construction of highly compact miniaturized devices for rapid, multiplex detection of various bioanalytes in the field. Paper can also be used for the sensing of gases. These low-cost, flexible substractes have the potential for integration in food package for monitoring spoilage, especially fresh foods such as raw meats. In this talk, I will present our latest work on paper-based sensors and how they can enable new technologies in agricultural and food sciences.

Providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment
Phil Swarbrick

CABI is an international not-for-profit organization that combats threats to agriculture from pests and diseases, protects biodiversity from invasive species, improves market access for smallholder producers and provides agricultural and environmental scientific knowledge. Our global Plantwise programme helps initiate in-country plant clinics that deliver free plant health advice to farmers.  Coupled with diagnostics, a comprehensive knowledge bank provides and collects information to and from the clinics). Another project ‘Pest Risk Information SErvice' is forecasting, crowd-sourcing and ground-truthing pest prevalence in Africa. We are a member of Centre for Applied Crop Science (CHAP) through Plantwise and our Molecular and Microbial Services (which hosts over 28,000 microbial strains).

Overview of research activities at the Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London
Colin Turnbull
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, UK

The Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College represents a very large grouping of around 100 academic research groups spanning the whole range of biological sciences from ecosystems and conservation biology through to molecular, structural, systems and synthetic biology. There is internationally recognised expertise in disciplines relevant to GCRF priorites in food production and food security. Specific foci include plant pathogens and pests, improving photosynthetic efficiency, plant stress biology and plant developmental biology. Research spans laboratory model organisms that enable rapid learning through to several major crop species. In this talk, research relevant to GCRF goals will be highlighted. 

Status and prospects of pest and disease management in Africa
Danny Coyne, Lava Kumar, James Legg, George Mahuku, Leena Tripathi
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

IITA has established a ‘One Health Platform’ with the aim of mitigating climate-driven biorisks. Five major themes of this initiative will be: 1) Pests and diseases; 2) Soil health; 3) Improved diagnostics; 4) Sustainable Intensification; and 5) Loss estimation. We will tackle these challenges using diverse approaches that will embrace new partners and promote the use of new diagnostic tools and novel smartphone apps, whilst building on existing areas of expertise such as biocontrol. IITA works closely with partner centres in the CGIAR, but will increasingly look to broaden collaboration and build on existing strong linkages with UK research institutions.

Low Cost Biosensors: from Continuous Monitoring to Single Use Device
Tony Cass
Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London, UK

We are developing low cost biosensors for a range of applications in human, animal and environmental health. These range from continuous monitoring of metabolites, biomarkers and drugs in patients through rapid virus detection to drinking water quality in LMICS. To achieve these aims we use a range of biorecognition molecules and signal transduction methods, primarily electrochemical. In my talk I will illustrate these ideas with 3 examples:
• Continuous glucose monitoring in diabetes using minimally invasive microneedle devices that can be mass produced at low cost and hence are disposable.
• Rapid influenza detection with lateral flow assays that combine the respective advantages of RNA aptamers and monoclonal antibodies.
• Disposable enzyme electrodes for the quantitation of arsenic in drinking water using a novel arsenite oxidase and low cost fabrication methods.

Managing emerging viruses diseases in Eastern Africa: The case of maize and cassava
Douglas Miano
University of Nairobi, Nairobi

Farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa are characterized by mixed cropping small farm sizes and is continuous throughout the year. This type of farming results in build-up of pests and diseases and when new diseases emerge, or in the case of outbreaks, the rate of spread and yield losses can be extremely high. Such has been the case of cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and maize lethal necrosis (MLN) in eastern and central Africa. Efforts towards identification, diagnostics and management of the two diseases and challenges encountered are discussed.

Multidimensional fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy
Paul French
Department of Physics, Imperial College London, UK

Fluorescence provides a powerful means to provide molecular contrast and has wide applications in biological imaging. While intensity-based fluorescence imaging provides information on the spatial distribution of fluorophores, spectroscopic readouts such as fluorescence lifetime, spectrum and polarization measurements can provide functional information (e.g. about molecular interactions, photophysics and the local molecular environment of the fluorophore). We are exploring the application of technology originally developed for medically-orientated projects to agriscience. In particular, we are exploring the application of multidimensional fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy of plants with a view to study the distribution and impact of agrichemicals.