The Department of Agricultural Engineering develops advanced technology for the future to produce agricultural products quickly, conveniently and stably through digitalization of the production process. We are developing technologies for automation and robotization of agricultural work using artificial intelligence and big data and research on the advancement of customized upland agricultural machines in response to the feminization and aging of rural labor.
Development of carbon-neutral technology using renewable energy to respond to weather change and abnormal weather, research on environmental optimization of agricultural facilities, post-harvest quality management, storage, distribution technology to improve added value of agricultural and livestock products. Also, we are developing agricultural disaster prevention technology to establish a stable agricultural production infrastructure and agricultural mechanization policy technology to improve the quality of agricultural machinery. We provide policy support through agricultural safety and health research and safety accident statistics production to improve the quality of life in agriculture and rural areas.
(1) The Department of Agricultural Engineering
consists of 6 divisions and carries out 6 tasks such as the automation and robotization technology in the agricultural production, renewable energy and energy saving technology for addressing weather change and stable management of farm household, post-harvest quality management, storage, distribution technology for improving added value of agricultural products. and developing prevention technology for agricultural disasters and developing customized upland agricultural machines in response to the feminization and aging of rural labor. also improving health and safety for farmers and to reduce agricultural work load.
(2) Smart Farm Development Division
has been conducting research to respond to the future agriculture, such as smart agriculture, hightech agricultural machinery, plant factories and livestock facility automation by convergence of artificial intelligence and IoT, big data analysis, cloud service technology, robots and automation technology that are the core technologies of the 4th industrial revolution.
(3) Energy and Environmental Engineering Division
has been developing the energy saving technology for stable management of farmers who are having difficulty in high oil prices. And, we mainly research on enhancing the warmth of farming facility, improving the energy efficiency of agricultural machineries and equipment, and developing application technology of new renewable energy in a farming field such as geothermal power and solar power.
(4) Post-harvest Engineering Division
has been investigating and developing the post-harvest machinery technologies such as processing, screening, inspecting, packaging, and storing of agricultural products. We mainly research on building infrastructure of processing facilities in the producing district to produce safe and value-added products and increase farmers’ income.
(5) Disaster Prevention Engineering Division
has been developing the agricultural disaster prevention techniques for stable farming infrastructures. The major areas of research include: safety use of agricultural machinery and policy development, improvement of stability and durability on agricultural facilities, and smart control technology of the irrigation for upland farming and protected soil cultivation.
(6) Upland Mechanization Team
has been developing the agricultural machinery for upland crops such as soybean, potato and garlic. We mainly research on development of seeder, transplanter and harvester, performance improvement and complexation and universalization of agricultural machinery. Furthermore, we study on element technologies for precision farming.
(7) Agricultural Health and Safety Team
has been conducted various research projects for agricultural health and safety. The main areas of research are a survey on farmers’ occupational injury and disease, evaluations of agricultural health hazards, development of ergonomic convenience equipment and personal protective equipment, and suggestions on relevant regulation and policy.
(8) Smart Farm Development Division
conducts research on automation and robotization of farm work and precision agricultural technologies, plant factory systems to achieve constant production of plants all year around, and environmental control and automation of livestock facilities using robots and IT technologies.
1. Development of Korean smart greenhouse model and establishment of national standards for smart farm ICT equipments
We divided the smart farm model into thee phases as first generation(convenience), second generation(productivity), third generation(export) models by technology level. The first generation model was developed in 2016, and one basic type and three optional types are being distributed to farms. In preparation for the disconnection of agricultural knowledge due to aging, big data such as farm environment, growth information, and product yield are collected and analyzed with artificial intelligence to provide information necessary for decision-making of farm environment management, and built a cloud computing system as second-generation smart greenhouse model in 2018. Today, we are working to develop a cloud-based artificial intelligence and big data analysis platform. We have established 22 types (13 sensors and 9 actuators) of smart greenhouse ICT national standards. Accordingly, we solved difficulties faced by farmers in maintenance and repair because of incompatibility.
2. Autonomous traveling tractor
We have developed the state-of-art technologies for agricultural machines to substitute drudgery farming labor such as tilling, weeding, harvesting, and so on. One of them, an autonomous traveling tractor based on high precision GPS(RTK-GPS) has been developed from various institutes including us, but a new autonomous traveling technology based on images and AI has been developed recently. The principle of this technology is to detect a boundary line between tilled and untilled area through images acquired by a camera attached to front side of a tractor. The maximum lateral error is just 9.5cm while traveling in the field.
Autonomous traveling tractor
3. Research on the Plant Production System using Artificial and Natural Lights
Our current strategies for production-technology development including plant factory, which is a facility that aids the steady production of high-quality fresh leaves all year round by artificially controlled environments (e.g., light quality, intensity, temperature, humidity, and/or culture medium) regardless of outside climate changes. Inside the plant factory, the various environmental factors are artificially controlled, and the factory can produces fresh leaves faster than by conventional filed or house condition. Aquaponics system integrated technology of aquaculture and hydroponics has been also established as a eco-friendly farming approach through nutrient recycling without any chemicals for plant production.
(9) Energy and Environmental Engineering Division
consists of 3 research laboratories that are renewable energy, energy convergence, and facility environment engineering laboratories. Firstly, the renewable energy laboratory searches for the energy in new resources such as solar power, geothermal power, water power, and waste heat energy of livestock excretions. Secondly, energy convergence laboratory carries out the research focusing on agricultural facility's energy monitoring & diagnosis, improving minimum plant warming & cooling skill, and minimizing energy consumption. Lastly, facility environment engineering laboratory searches on the technique that can advance energy efficiency by using multi-variable control of micro-climate environmental factor of agricultural facilities.
We have been trying to construct an infrastructure for a green agricultural facility of "carbon neutrality" fossil energy organically cooperated with each laboratory, develop and distribute an environment-friendly energy technique in agricultural facilities.
1. Development and distribution of horizontal geothermal heat pump system
Horizontal geothermal heat pump system for greenhouse has appeared that the cost of heating energy saved 78% as a result of a performance test by set up horizontal geothermal heat pump at a farm household. We have been distributing it to 428ha of greenhouse area by the agricultural new renewable energy policy. Various techniques using heat pump system for economical cooling and heating agricultural facilities will continuously distribute in the future.
2. Development of partial(crown) heating system on growing strawberry
We developed partial heating system for energy saving in strawberry nutriculture bed. Heating pipes installed very close to crown spot with hot water maintained temperature at the range of 20∼23℃. White low density polyethylene pipe in external diameter of 16mm was installed on crown spot. Compared with control bed the accumulated strawberry yield growth rate was 43%.
(10) Post-harvest Engineering Division
develops major technologies throughout the entire post-harvest part such as processing, screening, and transporting. We pursue the high-technology processing while maintaining the taste and quality of agricultural products through cleaning, sterilizing, storing, transporting. Along the way, we also develop non-destructive sensing technologies for the quality and safety of agricultural products such as sugar content, freshness, and harmful substances(foodborne bacteria, pesticide residues, and heavy metals, etc).
1. Grain processing machinery
We have developed milling machines, cleaning machines, de-stoners, and sorting machines for systematic processing of sorghum, millet, and Italian millet. These machinery can be used in small scale farms or cooperative units.
2. Developing non-destructive technologies for quality and safety sensing of agro-food
We have recently developed fruit sugar contents grader and image acquisition device to identify the quality of fruits and beef meat. Also, we have diagnosed the infection of food poisoning bacteria using fluorescence hyperspectral imaging technology. In this way, the quality and safety of agricultural and livestock products can be quickly measured and determined through the combination of non-destructive optical-based imaging technology and advanced artificial intelligence technology.
3. Developing new technologies to extend the shelf life and to increase added value of agricultural and livestock products
The cold storage of agri-foods has been improved with localization of controlled atmosphere storage, pallet scale controlled and modified atmosphere storage, and supercooled storage. Optimal packaging materials and structures have been studied to alleviate the transportation shock, and color change materials to increase added value of fruit package have been developed. Shorting the aging period, Fast freezing and thawing using radio frequency have been studied to improve the meat quality.
(11) Disaster Prevention Engineering Division
accomplishes the tasks, such as policy development for agricultural mechanization, safety improvement technology for agricultural machinery and facilities. In addition, smart control technology based on real time digital data of crop and soil conditions for the irrigation in upland farm and green house for soil cultivation.
1. Development of technique to support agricultural mechanization policy
Operation of agricultural machinery rental service, guideline for quality evaluation of used agricultural machinery, Improvement of agricultural machinery utilization system are inflected in a policy. And agricultural machinery's repairing skill, safe application, and application cost are provided through the website. Recently, statistics of agricultural machinery utilization and farm work mechanization rate are produced.
Website for agricultural machinery information service
2. Development of technology to improve the safety of agricultural machinery and facilities
Roll-over protective structure(ROPS) of agricultural tractor is being tested for certification under the OECD code. The OECD is discussing the introduction of virtual test to reduce the cost.
In order to disseminate domestic technology internationally, the standardization method and the automation program for the ROPS virtual test was developed. The uplift capacity test was conducted according to the depth of burial and the number of rafters for each type of soil to prepare the basic design criteria for single span greenhouse (19 types) for anti-disaster model of the horticultural and herbal facilities. Three types (simple, umbrella-type, and multi span) of improved rain shelter greenhouses were developed for jujube and peach cultivation. In addition, as a result of using insect-net facilities to reduce damage from meteorological disasters (hail, frost, heat wave, etc.) in the orchard, the solar transmittance decreased by 27.2% (heat wave), and no penetration of the insect-net occurred (hail), (frost) 46~63% decreased, (typhoon) the falling rate of fruit decreased by 87%.
Standardized modeling and verification for farm facilities safety
3. Development of smart irrigation system for upland farming and protected soil cultivation
We have developed a smart irrigation system to reduce labor and supply adequate amounts of water in a timely period. Smart irrigation system can detect the water stress by sensing the soil moisture and biometric information of crops, and timing and amount of irrigation are automatically determined using artificial intelligence(AI). When this system was applied to apple and peach trees in upland farming, the yield of crops increased by 19~40%, irrigation water saved by 10~31% and water management efforts decreased by 95%, additionally to tomato on protected soil, the yield of crop increased by 24%, and the water productivity increased by 3.2 times of conventional farming.
Smart irrigation system for upland farming and protected soil cultivation
(12) Upland Mechanization Team
makes an effort to solve agricultural issues such as lack of rural labor and to cope with future agricultural environment conditions through development and performance improvement of upland agricultural machinery, field adaptability improvement and development of element technologies for precision farming.
1. Development and performance improvement of field agricultural machinery
We focus on the development of seeder, transplanter and harvester with low mechanization rate in upland agriculture and development of complex-working agricultural machinery. We are also studying the performance improvement and universalization of developed agricultural machinery, and developing advanced agricultural machinery that are convenient for women and elderly farmers. We developed seeder for garlic and potato, transplanter for pepper and onion, and harvester for garlic, potato, and Chinese cabbage. And we studied the entire process mechanization system for 10 major crops such as garlic and onion to save labor and cost. We are also studying the complex work of upland agricultural machinery such as seeder performs ridging, mulching and seeding and harvester performs digging, debris removal and collection simultaneously. In addition, we are developing agricultural machinery with improved convenience such as auxiliary device for attaching agricultural machinery to tractors.
2. Researches on the improvement of field adaptability of developed machinery.
In addition, we are making efforts to improve field adaptability for developed machinery to improve the spread of upland agricultural machinery. In order to overcome the difference in cultivation techniques of crops according to varieties and regions, the developed machinery are tested under various conditions so that the problems that may arise when they are distributed to agricultural sites are identified and supplemented in advance.
3. Development of elemental technologies for precision farming.
We are developing elemental technologies to cope with future agriculture beyond the development of simple agricultural machinery. We will develop basic technology that can support farmers' decision-making by measuring, collecting and analyzing data generated during agricultural work such as seeding, transplanting, harvesting, pest control, fertilization, and irrigation in real time. In addition, we will develop basic and elemental technologies that can cope with future unmanned agricultural work by applying advanced technologies such as drones, autonomous driving technology, and autonomous agricultural work technology to upland agricultural machinery.
Drone pest control
(13) Agricultural Health and Safety Team
has been conducted a variety of research activities to improve health and safety for farmers and to reduce agricultural work load. we have been investigating health and safety hazards that occur to farmers at agricultural work conditions and developed safety and health management guidelines accordingly. We have been developing ergonomic tools and personal protective equipments to improve safety and convenience at agricultural work. Also, we have been producing statistics on occupational diseases and injuries for farmers through a nation-wide survey and related data analysis.
1. Research on statistics of farmers’ occupational health and safety.
has been producing statistics on farmers' occupational diseases and injuries from diverse sources including a nation-wide survey and compensation insurance data of Farmer Safety Insurance. Central Database Center based on hospital-based agricultural safety and health centers has been operated. Also, serious agricultural injury cases have been investigated and prevention strategies have been developed.
Central Database Center and Publications
2. Research on Agricultural work safety.
has been developing scientific and practical products for the health and safety of farmers. The digital safety management system, ergonomic tools and personal protective equipments for agricultural work safety and convenience have been developed. Also, a web-site to provide agricultural health and safety information has been operated(http://farmer.rda.go.kr).
Personal protective equipments and digital safety management system
3. Research on Risk assessment of work hazards.
has been conducting quantitative exposure assessment and risk assessment and providing safety standards for physical, chemical, and biological risk factors such as dust, endotoxin, pesticides, heat, ultraviolet rays, and organic gases to which agricultural workers are exposed. Also, practical safety guidelines have been developed and published based on the risk assessment on farm workplaces.
Quantitative exposure and risk assessment