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UT Tyler Receives USDA Grant to Enhance Crop Farming

The University of Texas at Tyler received $191,150 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service to enhance drones-based frameworks for imagery and crop monitoring on large farms.

Dr. Prabha Sundaravadivel, a UT Tyler assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, will collaborate with researchers at the USDA-ARS Crop Production Systems Unit in Stoneville, Mississippi on the two-year project. The team will add agricultural intelligence to the drones used to differentiate between row crops, and to separate those row crops from broadleaf weeds and grasses. They will also explore the potential application for prescription-based herbicide spraying.

Sundaravadivel’s research focuses on developing edge-intelligent systems for environmental sensing applications; application-specific architectures for smart health care; bio-inspired soft robotics; and underwater monitoring frameworks.

“If successful, the project outcomes can help integrate drones as autonomous surveillance vehicles for the early detection of weeds in large agricultural fields,” said Sundaravadivel. “This can significantly reduce the time and labor required for monitoring large agricultural fields. It can also help in improving the overall outcomes for the farmers.”

Sundaravadivel joined the UT Tyler engineering faculty in 2018. She directs the university’s Intelligent Systems Lab and is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Sundaravadivel also serves as the faculty adviser for the UT Tyler IoT student club. She holds a Master of Technology in VLSI design from the Vellore Institute of Technology in India and a doctorate in computer science and engineering from the University of North Texas.

ARS is the USDA’s chief scientific in-house research agency. ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural
problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in U.S. agricultural research results in $20 on economic impact. For more information, visit

With a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT Tyler offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 10,000 students. Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center and UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education, cutting-edge research and excellent patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.

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