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A novel precision agriculture decision support tool to help farmers determine nitrogen fertiliser application plans using satellite imagery

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The proposed MPhil is a continuation of a collaboration between the Department of Engineering at University of Leicester and a Leicester based SME offering a range of services to farmers. The R&D collaboration’s aim is to help famers increase efficiency of fertiliser use and thus cut costs and increase yield. In June 2017, the two organisations completed a feasibility study which explored the viability of developing an on-farm system to provide farmers expert advice on variable rate nitrogen fertiliser applications based on processing of satellite imagery data. A follow-on project with additional partners is proposed to develop a beta prototype.

The Project

The goal of the MPhil proposed research project is to take the outcome of the feasibility study further and implement a variable-rate fertiliser decision-making and prescription software tool. The tool will be based on the developed functional model of the system, which is captured with Matlab. The model was validated through test campaigns with farmers. It incorporates several components, such as satellite image processing, Geographic Information System (GIS) functions and expert agronomist knowledge. The software tool will be implemented using the ‘C’ programming language. The Matlab model will be constantly upgraded with additional features, as necessary, during the project work and will be used as a reference for testing of the tool before it is validated by users.

Ultimately, the service/product developed through the project will provide the SME with a new product and service which it can sell to farmers (i.e. their business customers) which will have the ability to quickly process satellite data into nitrogen fertiliser application maps.


• Bachelor Degree with at least a UK 2:1 in Electronic or Computer Engineering.
• University English language requirements apply.


• A very good working knowledge and previous experience in C language programming
• A very good working knowledge and previous experience in modelling with Matlab / Simulink
• Ability to build strong working relationships with core stakeholders (academics, sponsoring SME, and third sector organisations).
• Business engagement/development skills and aptitude.
• Effective English oral and written skills in order to communicate effectively.
• A self-starter who is able to work as part of a team.


Two reference/letters of support are required as part of the application process. The supervisor identified for the above mentioned project cannot be amongst the references provided

Apply for Engineering Research and include Project Ref LIH014 on the application

Funding Notes

This is a one year fully funded industrial MPhil available from the University of Leicester (Department of Mathematics) to undertake applied research and development on behalf of a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) in Leicester. The MPhil research will help develop an e-marketing tool based on customer behaviour and using face recognition. The fully funded MPhil is funded by the Leicester Innovation Hub, part-funded by European Regional Development Fund, and the sponsoring SME
• The University of Leicester pays a monthly stipend of £1,166.67 (total Stipend £14,000) in arears to the student. The funding will be strictly limited to 12 months.
• The SME pays the University’s 1 year full-time MPhil fees (upfront before project start).

Please note that this position is only available to UK and EU students

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