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OPTIKO – Optimization of cauliflower cultivation

A project to optimize cauliflower cultivation by monitoring with UAVs and machine-learning


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01.01.20 - 31.12.22

In the innovative project OPTIKO, we develop a novel method to automatically monitor growth and performance of cauliflower plants using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Challenges in cauliflower farming

Cauliflower is a demanding culture and the flower must meet high quality standards. Consequently, fields must be frequently monitored by farmers and their agricultural advisors, to minimize abiotic and biotic stresses by appropriate management procedures. Furthermore, the harvest must be well timed to maximize the number of flowers that can be harvested with a marketable flower size. However, due to field sizes, farmers can only spot check fields and not survey whole fields.

Use of low cost technology to monitor cauliflower fields

The project OPTIKO aims to develop a novel method to monitor cauliflower fields and detect stressed plants early. Low cost drones and cameras will be used to generate multispectral images of whole fields. Machine learning algorithms will be developed to assess traits of individual cauliflower plant and detect heterogeneities within a field based on spectral and spatial information, which indicate abiotic or biotic stresses. In addition, multispectral data will be used to predict the optimal dates of harvest, when most cauliflower plants can be harvested.

Future applications of the developed method

The developed innovative method complements already established operational processes and existing agro-machinery technology. Furthermore, it will be transferable to other crops. In the future, automatized UAV overflights will monitor plant growth and automatically detect stress symptoms, thus simplifying plant management such as the timing of fertilization and plant protection treatments. The improved prediction of harvest dates and yields will allow for an improved managing of sales and thus stabilization of sales benefits. Therefore, the project OPTIKO contributes to the digitalization of agriculture to increase sustainability and yield security.

Funded by

The project is funded by the Ministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen in the framework of the European Innovation Partnership 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability' (

Europäischer Landwirtschaftsfonds für die Entwicklung des ländlichen Raums:
Hier investiert Europa in die ländlichen Gebiete unter Beteiligung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen

Funded by


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University of Bonn, Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation

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JB Hyperspectral Devices UG

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Schwarz Gemüse- & Erdbeerbau

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