Cengiz Koparan is assistant professor of precision agriculture technology.
Cengiz Koparan knows first-hand the need for agricultural technology.
Koparan planted 1,000 apple trees in Ankara, Turkey, in 2004. The demanding work of planting, maintaining and harvesting the apples in his orchard helped inspire his mission to put advanced robotics in the hands of more farmers.
Koparan, a new assistant professor of precision agriculture technology for the U of A System Division of Agriculture, said the rapid rise of artificial intelligence is already making cutting-edge technology more available.
“It’s no longer a future,” Koparan said about automating agricultural systems and technology. “Fifteen years ago it was the future, but now it’s here.”
Koparan’s research aims to improve agricultural practices through robotic systems. Part of his research involves using artificial intelligence to reduce labor shortages and make farm technology more approachable for producers.
Koparan said that as technologies become more complex, artificial intelligence could make them more user-friendly.
“Someone needs to form a bridge between engineering applications and the operators,” Koparan said. “AI can fill some of this gap. If a machine or robot is based on artificial intelligence, then the end user won’t have to control all aspects and parameters of the robot.”
Researchers with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture, are already investigating numerous applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Experiment station scientists are evaluating new weed control technologies, designing systems to determine yield potential from aerial imagery and studying the use of artificial intelligence and robotics in chicken processing.
Encouraging Student Involvement
Koparan joined the experiment station in February. He has a dual role, working for both the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering. He is in the Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology in the former, and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in the latter.
Since arriving in Arkansas, Koparan has established an agricultural robotics club at the university and received a $5,000 Student Success Grant from the university’s Global Campus. The grant will fund a reoccurring capstone project course beginning in spring 2024. Throughout the course, Koparan will instruct students on how to build a quadcopter and subsystems for site-specific precision agriculture applications.
The robotics club will compete in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Annual International Meeting’s student robotics club competition in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 9, Koparan said.
“We need more student involvement in this type of research,” Koparan said. He said he learned a lot as a student in agricultural robotics clubs, and he sees the agriculture industry adopting these technologies more as time progresses.
Koparan received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Ankara University in Turkey in 2008 and earned a master’s degree in business management from Cambridge College in 2012. Koparan then attended Clemson University, earning master’s and doctoral degrees in plant and environmental sciences in 2016 and 2020.
Koparan’s upcoming and current research includes using computer vision-integrated unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to count blackberry blossoms. He is also developing computer vision-based variable rate spraying systems focused on weed control in soybean crops using drones and unmanned ground vehicles.
As a doctoral student, Koparan worked on various projects using unmanned aerial and ground vehicles. His upcoming blackberry blossom research parallels one of his earlier projects that used image processing to count peach blossoms. He also contributed to research on developing water quality monitoring tools using drones, which helped improve watershed management in South Carolina.
His post-doctoral work focused on precision weed management using computer vision and artificial intelligence to drive a drone-based automated spraying system.
Koparan said his knowledge of engineering concepts combined with his awareness of agricultural practices allow him to explore possible solutions to issues in the industry.
“When you know how, and you know there is a need, you do it,” Koparan said.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: aaes.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture: The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.