NSERC funds UPEI research into smarter application of agriculture resources

Dr. Aitazaz Farooque will develop technologies and systems to improve crop productivity and mitigate environmental risks
Posted: 
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Dr. Aitazaz Farooque is an assistant professor at UPEI’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering

The National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) recently announced the recipients of its latest round of Discovery Grants and Discovery Accelerator Supplements. Among the awardees is Dr. Aitazaz Farooque, an assistant professor at UPEI’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering.

Dr. Farooque’s research aims to develop technologies and systems for the application of inputs used in potato farming, including pesticide, nutrients, and irrigation. Under current crop-management practices, these inputs are applied uniformly across a field, without taking into consideration variations in soil, crop, potential yield, climate, and topographical features. This not only increases the cost of production, but also poses a serious threat to the environment in the form of nutrient run-off to water bodies, sub-surface groundwater contamination, and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Development of innovative smart technologies, capable of applying agrochemicals based on soil and crop needs, is a future of modern agriculture to ensure economic and environmental sustainability,” said Dr. Farooque.

Dr. Farooque’s research program will develop and integrate technologies and systems to identify variations within a field. It will use sensing and control systems to create intelligent machines to ensure better management practices.

Over the five years of the project, Dr. Farooque’s research program will train three master’s degree students, two PhD students, five undergraduates, and a research technician.

Dr. Farooque is an award-winning teacher and researcher. He has been developing precision agriculture technologies for agriculture industry in Eastern Canada for several years. He has expertise and skills in engineering design, development and management, bio-systems modeling, instrumentation testing, evaluation of sensors and controllers, hardware and software for automation of machines, sensing and control systems, and mechanical modification.

“Congratulations to Dr. Farooque for being one of the very few investigators in Canada to have received both an NSERC Discovery grant and a Discovery Accelerator Supplement,” said Dr. Robert Gilmour, vice-president academic and research at UPEI. “UPEI is delighted that his scientifically groundbreaking work will likely have immediate and significant impact on one of PEI's most important economies.”

Dr. Farooque’s NSERC Discovery Grant is one of nine successful applicants from UPEI in this round of funding. The other researchers include Dr. Ali Ahmadi (Engineering), Dr. Matthew Hall (Engineering), Dr. Shafiqul Islam (Mathematical and Computational Sciences), Dr. Collins Kamunde (Biomedical Sciences), Trung Dung Ngo (Engineering), Dr. Peter Ross (Biology), Dr. Michael van den Heuvel (Biology), and Dr. Qiang Ye (Mathematical and Computational Sciences.

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.

Dave Atkinson
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