Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Drones will reduce agricultural CO2 emissions

ReDoCO2 is a new Danish development project, which the Innovation Fund Denmark supports with DKK 24.3 million. kr. Researchers from the Department of Agroecology will, in collaboration with Aalborg University, RegionMidt, SkyTEM, and I • GIS, develop methods and technology for mapping and analysing peatlands, one of the major sources of CO2 emissions in agriculture. The project will develop methods for a more accurate determination of the distribution of peat soils as well as carbon stocks here.

2020.11.03 | Camilla Brodam

Photo: AU Foto

The national target of reducing CO2 emissions by 70% by 2030 in Denmark is hardly news to anyone anymore. But such an ambitious goal requires focus on and research into new technologies. One of the means to help us on the way to a 70% reduction is the removal of peatlands from farming. Peatlands in agricultural production emit a lot of CO2 when drained and cultivated. It is of high priority to remove the stop agricultural production on peatlands as a mean to achieve the reduction target within the next 10 years. 

"The detailed knowledge about the distribution of these soils is sparse, and that is why this project is so important. It can help us to map the areas that can generate the biggest reduction in CO2 emissions in Denmark," says Mogens H. Greve from the Department of Agroecology, who is part of the ReDoCO2 project.

Using the investment from the Innovation Fund, the ReDoCO2 project develops advanced hardware and software to map areas in unprecedented details, thus enabling much more accurate estimates of carbon stocks and current CO2 emissions. Based on these estimates, it will be easier to select the peatlands that provide the most value in terms of CO2 emissions to rewet and extract from agricultural production.

Drones and 3D

“We will be working with a combination of ground-breaking drone-mounted geophysical sensors, field data, machine learning, 3D visualization software, cloud-based data, and computing platforms. It will revolutionise the mapping of peatlands both nationally and globally, because it can be done in unprecedented detail, which allows us to make accurate estimates of carbon stocks and current CO2 emissions from here," says Mogens H. Greve. 

The main goal at national level is to help reduce CO2 emissions and ensure maximum effect of the strategies that focus on the extraction of agricultural land.

In addition, the result could have an economic, social, and environmental impact that can maintain Denmark in a position as a green pioneer internationally. The project will also create new export opportunities for Danish green technology, in particular for the project's business partners.

“We are really looking forward to getting started with the project, which is very relevant in connection with the climate discussion. Not least, it is relevant in connection with the large amount of money that will be spent on agricultural land in the future. For us and the other partners, it is also a unique opportunity to be able to further develop the competencies and technologies that have been developed in the last 15-20 years in connection with the Danish mapping of groundwater,” says project manager and CEO Niels-Peter Jensen from I • GIS.

About the project
Collaborators: The project is a collaboration between Danish companies, authorities and universities. I • GIS A / S, SkyTEM Surveys Aps, Central Region, Aarhus University, and Aalborg University

About the collaborators 

Aarhus University, Section of Soil Physics and Hydropedology at the Department of Agroecology (AGRO). Conducts research into the earth's physical, chemical, and hydrological processes to gain quantitative insight into the spatial distribution of soil properties on a local, regional and national scale. AGRO advises the Government in relation to agricultural environmental and climate challenges and has a strong research effort in digital soil mapping using AI techniques

I • GIS, is a Danish compaby that offers specialised GIS and geological software and services. The company is strongly committed to R&D in order to position itself as a high-tech company that can provide the best services. I • GIS has a strong national customer base, but an increasing share of the company's revenue comes from exports.

SkyTEM, is a highly specialised company with over 50 employees and worldwide activities in helicopter-based mapping of geology. For more than a decade, the company has been developing new technologies for mapping and introducing new products that have made the company an international success with departments around the world.

Central Denmark Region, covers 19 municipalities. Central Denmark Region is the authority for soil pollution and coordinates regional development in nature, environment, pollution and tourism. Since 2007, Central Denmark Region has collaborated with the municipalities on issues concerning climate, soil pollution and water and has a great interest in land distribution

Aalborg University, the laboratory for research in computer vision at Aalborg University has researched computer vision and machine learning for more than 20 years. The laboratory specialises in the development and application of cutting-edge data processing techniques, data integration, and data science within many current issues. For the ReDoCO2 project, work will have to be done with the latest Deep Learning algorithms to be able to handle and utilise the many different types of data collected

Funding: 
Innovation Fund Denmark: 24,3 mio. kr.
Total budget: 32,2 mio. kr.
Duration: 4 years 
Official title: Reducing and Documenting CO2 emissions from Peatlands - ReDoCO2 - 0177-00086
Contact: 
Mogens H. Greve, Department og Agroecology, Aarhus Universitet. Email:  Greve@agro.au.dk Phone: +4520726734 eller
Projectleader and CEO Niels-Peter Jensen, I•GIS A/S. Email: npj@i-gis.dk Phone: +45 25230075

Research, Grant, Agro, DCA