Zare’s $1.2 Million Award Brings Machine Learning to Plant Root Science (ECE Florida News)

Zare’s $1.2 Million Award Brings Machine Learning to Plant Root Science

A team of researchers from ECE Florida and IFAS has received a $1.2M grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that combines machine learning, hyperspectral cameras, and minirhizotron tubes to study root systems of plants over time. The project, “SiTS: Hyperspectral Signals in the Soil,” is headed by ECE researcher Dr. Alina Zare and includes: Dr. Sanjeev Koppal from ECE, and Drs. Chris Wilson and Diane Rowland from Agronomy and Stefan Gerber from Soil and Water Sciences in  IFAS.

The SiTS project is developing AI algorithms and tools to automatically trace the roots and pull out important root features using ML/AI methods, labeling and analysis can be automated. Second, the grant supports work to develop a hyperspectral camera to be installed into the MR tubes. Hyperspectral imaging can obtain much more information than traditional RGB cameras—for example, carbon levels in the soil, chemical composition in soil and in the roots.

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