About University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna
Founded in 1872, the Universität für Bodenkultur Wien / University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, also known by its acronym "BOKU" is an education and research institution for renewable resources in Vienna, Austria. Today, BOKU comprises of 15 departments located at two sites in Vienna and one in Lower Austria, as well as several external research and teaching facilities in Austria. There are currently approximately 11000 students enrolled at BOKU in study courses at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. BOKU employs approximately 1140 staff members engaged in teaching and research, a broad range of external lecturers, and approximately 630 employees working in services and administration. BOKU responds to central societal challenges with its focus on problem-solving rather than a discipline-oriented structure, combining expertise in the fields of natural sciences, engineering as well as social and economic sciences (three-pillar principle). In research and teaching, BOKU pursues the following mission:
- Protection and improvement of livelihood
- Management of natural resources
- Securing nutrition and health
- Sustainable societal and technological transformation
In the Department of Landscape, Spatial and Infrastructure Sciences, the Institute of Geomatics covers scientific and technical aspects of geo-spatial data management and information retrieval for vegetation monitoring, in particular using satellite sensors such as Copernicus Sentinel-2 data. The Institute of Geomatics is internationally recognized as one of the leading institutes specializing in the processing and analysis of Copernicus Sentinel-2 data for precision agriculture and other satellite time series, such as MODIS NDVI data used for vegetation anomaly detection. The Institute developed a unique processing chain for Sentinel-2 time series, including the extraction of relevant vegetation traits such as leaf area index (LAI) (s2.boku.eodc.eu/). This processing chain was further exploited to develop satellite-based products for precision agriculture. In particular, within the COALA H2020 project (from 2020 to 2023) BOKU has developed a data ingestion, processing and storage infrastructure to provide (satellite) Data as a Services (DaaS) for Farm Management Software Companies and IT companies working for farmers. An application programming interface (API) provides access to more than 19 algorithms to generate products for precise crop management (including e.g. anomaly detection, irrigation estimation, nutrient balance, crop yield). Notably, data from the COALA API have powered an Augmented Reality (AR) framework for farmers that was developed in the ARmEO project (from 2021 to 2022) funded by Austrian Space Application Programme, ASAP, Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).
BOKU has coordinated the prototyping of the data and information framework presented via an AR visor. The idea is to use accessible and fun-to-use AR devices to bring more information and data to small and large-scale farmers. Key expertise of the team includes machine learning and neural nets for image analysis, forward and inverse modelling of canopy spectral signatures for the retrieval of vegetation traits using physically-based radiative transfer models, time series analysis, extraction of land surface phenology, and drought indicators for monitoring purposes.