Crop Strength Data Acquisition Device

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IMG 6730.JPG
Sponsors University of Idaho
Team Name Team Crop Top (TCT)
Duration Fall 2018 - Spring 2019
Client Dr. Daniel Robertson
Team Members
  • Ryan Donahue
  • Kennedy Caisley

A long standing problem for corn, wheat, barley and canola plants is lodging. Severe wind and rain causes bending of crop stems, making them difficult to harvest and therefore limiting yield. Predicting plant strength allows agronomists and industry partners to breed more resilient seeds for providing food, fuel and fiber to the world’s growing population.

Problem Definition[edit]


As of Fall 2018, Dr. Robertson's team has three crop strength measurement devices. Each device records similar data, allowing one control unit to be used for each device topology. Industry partners are currently using the devices to characterize their crops. In return, they provide valuable data back to the University for further research.

Existing Devices[edit]

"Crop Pusher" "Crop Piercer"


Each device costs about $1300 and requires about 5 hours to construct. The goal of team crop top is to reduce unit cost and time to produce while adding functionality.


The following systems must meet or exceed functionality of the prototype.

  • Graphical user interface displayed on a screen
  • Precision analog to digital converter (ADC) for load cell measurements
  • Motor controller for linear actuator
  • Rotary Encoder for rotation speed measurement
  • Positioning system for location logging
  • Accelerometer for motion detection
  • Temperature sensor
  • Humidity sensor

The following systems will be added to the product.

  • Barcode scanning for fast crop identification
  • Video capture for new devices
  • Touch display


Alt text
"Revison 1 Schematic"


Ryan donahue.PNG
Ryan Donahue

Major: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Eagle, ID
Graduation Date: May 2019
Future Goals: Career as hardware engineer

Ned caisley.jpg
Kennedy Caisley

Major: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Graduation Date: May 2019
Future Goals: Graduate school

Additional Documentation[edit]

Team Crop Top Github