Past Winners

Winners 2014

First prize:
Daniel Hege of Geisenheim University, Germany

Second prize:
Team Demeter (Miles Metcalfe, Glen Ebsary, James Meadows and James Chapman) of Harper Adams University, UK

Third prize:

Manuel Penteado of Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Portugal
Special Africa Prize:
Faith Mwiza of Rwanda, currently working as research consultant with NASA DEVELOP National Program in the USA. Faith’s trophy will be awarded to her in a separate ceremony in the US.

First prize: Daniel Hege

(Left) Daniel Hege winning 1st Prize in Prague 2014, (Right) A tractor fitted with RTK based automatic steering

Read more about the the winning concept of Daniel Hege

The vegetable production makes high demands on the precision of the work performed. GPS-assisted guidance systems can relieve the driver and increase the quality of work. So far, data were missing for profitability, in small scale vegetable production.

For this reason, a bachelor thesis at the University of Geisenheim dealt with the savings in field vegetable, through the use of a Real Time Kinematic (RTK) based automatic steering. It was shown that the investment is worthwhile even for small and medium farms. Due to the excellent results of the bachelor's thesis, the topic was engrossed in the master thesis further.

The aim was to find out what the advantages are the uses in mechanical weed control. It could be shown that the driving speed can be increased by three times, while reducing the damage to the plants. In addition to the savings in working time can be simultaneously diesel and in some crops for methane gas for flame treatment save. Thus, the use GPS technology opens new possibilities to a more environmentally friendly vegetable production.

Judges’ Comments
“A mature concept, that proves the advantages of precision agriculture for vegetable production with a very compelling business case and an excellent presentation”

Testimonal: Questions to 2014 Winner Daniel Hege

Daniel: So first of all I would take the chance to say thank you, to all the people who were involved in the Farming by Satellite Prize. You really made us feel very welcome on the trip to Prague. Everything was perfectly organized and really interesting.

How has the prize helped you?
Daniel: The prize is a really big chance for young people, who are interested in doing research in precision farming. For me it was and still is a platform for meeting interesting people who are industry experts and researchers, who I wouldn’t have met without the prize. Especially the agriculture press still refers to the prize. The best part of entering the prize is how much exposure your name gets.

What was it like to go to Prague for the judging and Award Ceremony?
Daniel: If you get the chance to go there is a kind of family atmosphere, so there is no chance to be nervous. The whole trip was really amazing, especially going to the GSA headquarters. It was really nice to meet people from different countries and all the judges.

What advice would you give yourself if you were entering the prize again?
Daniel: You will enjoy it! If were to enter the prize again, the best advice would to be yourself and don’t be afraid, it is a really nice trip, with very interesting people. So I can only recommend you try your luck and I wish all the best for this!

Thank you very much for your time Daniel.

About Daniel Hege

Daniel will finish his PhD at the end of 2016. For his PhD he is developing a GPS guided steering system, which is an extension of his Masters thesis. But mainly he works on his parents farm selling vegetables, cereals and potatoes. So he is an external PhD student at the Justus Liebig University Gießen. 

Second prize: Team Demeter

Team Demeter with their concept vehicle

Read more about the the winning concept of Team Demeter

The four students from Harper Adams University were involved in a research project developing a semi-autonomous platform based on an off-road agricultural vehicle.

A key component of this design is the incorporation of GPS technology for the purpose of route guidance whilst carrying out agricultural operations. In the past the trend has been for agricultural machines to increase in size causing damage to the soil structure. However current thinking, and thus their concept, is to move away from large machines performing blanket field operations and move towards to smaller machines performing site-specific tasks where necessary.

The concept vehicle will rely on GPS technology to accurately follow set way-points inside field boundaries, this provides a greater level of accuracy which increases efficiency and removes errors caused by human operators.

Judges’ Comments
“This addresses a real problem of soil damage and flooding conditions, with autonomous vehicles working in ‘swarms’. Interesting and promising work.”

What are Team Demeter doing now?

James Meadows

James recently graduated from Harper Adam’s University (UK). He now works as an Electrical Engineer at Prodrive, which is a world leading motorsport and advanced technology businesses.

James Chapman 

James recently graduated from Harper Adam’s University (UK) after completing an undergraduate Master’s degree in Agricultural Engineering. Whilst he was at Harper Adams he had a placement year at JCB.

Third prize: Manuel Penteado

Image from Manuel Penteado of Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Portugal

Read more about the concept of Manuel Penteado

Manuels’ idea was to draw a harvest route that can be used by the harvesters through a GPS receptor, for selective harvest in traditional arboreal (agriculture or forest) systems. Using high resolution satellite images, vegetation indices can be calculated to describe the spatial variation of the production. This can be used to generate maps that represent different production plots within the same land (with selective production), and afterwards the farmer is able to define the most efficient route that the harvesters can use on the field being guided with a GPS receptor to harvest one specific quality product plot.

With this idea the farmers can take a lot of advantages such as improve the efficiency of the processes, reduce the carbon emission to the atmosphere and even reduce the soil compaction, without forgetting the advantages generated with the segmented harvest, like the creation of homogeneous and more valued plots.

Judges Comments
“The idea minimises working time in orchards and forests, and focuses action on the spot where it is needed. We think that it has potential, especially in Southern Europe and North Africa.”

Testimonial: Questions to Manuel Penteado

Manuel: The Farming by Satellite prize brought me new perspectives for my career and got me new chances to join great working teams in Precision Agriculture projects, it is also something that I can always be proud of saying I took part.

What was it like to go to Prague for the judging and Award Ceremony?
Manuel: This competition was a great experience, an amazing journey which started with an idea and just ended in Prague for the Award Ceremony.

What advice would you give yourself if you were entering the prize again?
Manuel: If I was entering the prize again I would try to improve my presentation, because I believe it was what took me between the three prizes.

Has the prize enabled you extend your research?
Manuel: Yes! The project I am currently working on is called Smartcrop and it is a project of Precision Agriculture in maize production, where I am a researcher for University of Lisbon. This project includes other companies, where we work with remote sensing (airborne and satellite imagery), yield monitors and irrigation systems. Also, I’m now an Assistant Director at a Portuguese Precision Agriculture magazine – ‘Agrobótica’.

Did you enter a piece of work you were doing as part of your university course?
Manuel: Actually my entry was part of a piece of work I developed from my Master’s dissertation, but with some different topics. At that time, I entered, I had already finished my dissertation and I used the knowledge from my course to write the idea, but I added some topics. My dissertation was about remote sensing, and the idea for the prize was about GPS routes, using a background of remote sensing analysis.

Thank you very much for your time Manuel.

About Manuel Penteado

Manuel completed his Masters degree in 2013 from Instituto Superior de Agronomia (Portugal). He entered an extension of his dissertation to the Farming by Satellite prize. He is now a researcher at the University of Lisbon working in a Precision Agriculture team called ‘Projecto SMARTCROP’, and is also Assistant Director at a Portuguese Precision Agriculture magazine - Agrobótica.

Special Africa Prize: Faith Mwiza

(Left) Drone fitted with an aerial camera, (Right) Rwanda Countryside

Read more about the concept of Faith Mwiza

Information is wealth. Lack of sufficient data introduces a disability in the constant monitoring of agricultural practices. Situated in the heart of Africa is the small but aspiring country of Rwanda, where over 90% of the population is engaged in subsistence farming. With a population of 11 million, which is projected to grow to 16 million by 2020, there is an increasing necessity to introduce modern techniques to improve food production.

The Government of Rwanda is introducing new practices to change from subsistence to commercial farming. One of the obstacles is in the continuous monitoring of implemented practices. This project aims to incorporate high and medium resolution satellite data with in-situ information, collected by drones, to monitor cultivated lands.

Futuristically, drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), fitted with aerial camera, thermal imager and Global Navigation Satellite Systems, can be introduced to collect data from the ground at regular intervals. They can also be used in crop health monitoring and for precision farming, at commercial levels, to reduce cost in spraying fertilizer and seeds. Data from the drones, combined with satellite imagery, could be used to model future yield.

Judges Comments
“This solution is a great example of technology leapfrogging in Africa. Geographic and climate challenges combine with economic factors to provide real market opportunities for new technologies and a mobile-friendly population.”