To feed a growing world population with the given amount of arable land, we must develop new methods of sustainable farming that increase yield while minimizing chemical inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Precision agricultural techniques seek to address this challenge by monitoring key indicators of crop health and targeting treatment only to plants or infested areas that need it. Such monitoring is currently a time consuming and expensive activity. There has been great progress on automating this activity using robots, but most existing systems have been developed to solve only specialized tasks. This lack of flexibility poses a high risk of no return on investment for farmers.

The goal of the Flourish project is to bridge the gap between the current and desired capabilities of agricultural robots by developing an adaptable robotic solution for precision farming. By combining the aerial survey capabilities of a small autonomous multi-copter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a multi-purpose agricultural Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), the system will be able to survey a field from the air, perform targeted intervention on the ground, and provide detailed information for decision support, all with minimal user intervention. The system can be adapted to a wide range of farm management activities and different crops by choosing different sensors, status indicators and ground treatment packages. The gathered information can be used alongside existing precision agriculture machinery, for example, by providing position maps for fertiliser application.

The Flourish project is funded by the European Community's Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement no 644227-Flourish and from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) under contract number 15.0029.