AI and drones: useful tools for farmland bird conservation

The Oxygen Project interviewed Ed Kluen after his recent publication on this topic

Ed Kluen (post-doctoral researcher at the ESB group) and other colleagues from the University of Helsinki are investigating innovative ways to palliate the impact of modern agricultural practices on nesting farmland birds. Farmland birds, such as the lapwing, nest on the ground every spring clashing with the tillage period (ploughing and sowing), and thus leading to nests being destroyed.

Ed and colleagues fitted a drone with a thermal camera to find the locations of the inconspicuous ground nests with eggs in agricultural fields. This technology, combined with an artificial intelligence software that analyses the enormous number of images produced by the drone, allowed the researchers to identify and locate nests on the arable land.

By showing that this technique works the authors hope this technique can become implemented in farmland practices. The authors stress that with an increased technification of farming through implementation of novel high-tech, it is essential for conservationists together with farmers and tech-specialists to come up with solutions that help aid conservation of farmland biodiversity.

If you want to read the whole interview, it is available here, and the original scientific paper that motivated it, here.