Manipulation Detection for Expensive Agricultural Research

By 2050, more than nine billion people will inhabit the earth. Their food supply is one of the greatest global challenges. Crop Science, research in the field of agricultural plants, is therefore the cornerstone of one of Bayer AG's most important business areas. Bayer is the world's third-largest supplier of crop protection and seeds for the agricultural industry. In the »SensFArM« project, Fraunhofer FKIE has developed a system for monitoring the test fields the company uses to conduct its complex and costly research.


»Sensor-Based Flexible Area Monitoring« (SensFArM)

© oticki/123RF
Feeding the world's steadily growing population is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Bayer AG is tackling this challenge through its »Crop Science« research unit. In its »SensFArM« project, the Fraunhofer FKIE has developed a sensor-based monitoring solution to monitor the widely distributed fields in which the company conducts its costly research. The solution detects, reports and logs unauthorized access to the fields.

Bayer breeds, monitors, and researches newly developed resistant cereal varieties and crop protection products in breeding and crop protection fields around the world. The cultivated areas are often leased, freely accessible plantations and fields. At these locations, there is always a risk of unauthorized persons trying to manipulate the research projects. For instance, they may sprinkle or plant foreign seeds or chemicals in the soil or simply destroy crops and fields.

Since research projects on crop protection and seeds usually run for many years and the manipulation is not always discovered immediately, such incidents can cause major setbacks and financial losses for the company. Bayer therefore has a strong interest in early warning of any unauthorized, suspicious activities in its high-risk fields so that they can be investigated promptly.

In Securitas, Bayer has a well-known security service provider at its side in addition to its own corporate security staff. Securitas has already been entrusted with guarding various properties of the Bayer Group, which it carries out from »Security Operation Centers« (SOC). But 24/7 monitoring of the geographically dispersed, often remote and constantly changing test field locations is not yet possible.

»SensFArM«, short for »Sensor-Based Flexible Area Monitoring«, is a project in which the Fraunhofer FKIE has developed a deployable technical solution for sensor-based facilities monitoring. It is designed to ensure the detection and traceability of unwanted activity within the clearly defined areas of the Bayer test fields.


© Fraunhofer FKIE
Combined display of motion paths and video images for classification.
© Fraunhofer FKIE
Overview of monitored areas in the mobile application for cell phones and handheld devices.

The technical approach is based on a multi-sensor motion detection solution. Seismic sensors detect vibrations in the ground. Additional optical detection and verification of movements is done by electro-optical and infrared cameras. Valid movement patterns are identified using sensor data fusion.

GPS own-position reporting via smartphones assists in differentiating between authorized and unauthorized access. The merged sensor data is transmitted via LTE from the field to the server. Alarms generated on the server are displayed on both stationary and mobile devices in a clear situational picture.

On the server side, rule-based processing of the merged sensor data is performed. An alarm is triggered in the event of a critical detection. Stationary and mobile applications offer an overview of the monitored areas as well as current alarms.

Sensor information and detected motion paths are georeferenced in a cartographically rendered layer. Alarm processing is supported in the application by enabling the user to classify and evaluate the detected objects, including via a video image.


© Fraunhofer FKIE
Test setup for the »SensFArM« final demonstration at the Bayer experimental station Gut Höfchen. The pylons distributed across the field mark the positions of the seismic sensors.
© Fraunhofer FKIE
Under the pylons there are seismic sensors to detect vibrations caused, for instance, by unauthorized persons entering the area.
© Fraunhofer FKIE
Combination of electro-optical and infrared cameras for the optical detection and verification of property access.

A technical monitoring solution that meets the specific requirements is not yet available on the market. The »SensFArM« demonstrator can therefore serve as a jumping-off point for a fully mature technical solution that can be rolled out widely and offered by the industry. The generic approach to implementation pursued in the development of the demonstrator sets favorable conditions for further development stages oriented to specific applications.


© Fraunhofer FKIE/screenshot project film
Andreas Maack, Chief Security Officer Bayer AG: »We are confronted with problem cases where people trespass on our fields and cause damage. We have a lot of fields and have to find cost-effective, efficient, usable solutions that are as minimally invasive as possible to our everyday work. We are very pleased with the collaboration we have with Fraunhofer FKIE.«
© Fraunhofer FKIE/screenshot project film
Daniel Schleimer, Managing Director of Securitas Services GmbH: »For Securitas, the SensFArM project is a great opportunity to test and obtain initial results in outdoor monitoring using state-of-the-art technology in collaboration with Fraunhofer and Bayer. Securitas is always interested in new ideas and innovative ways to create security for our customers.«


»The generic approach in SensFArM facilitates individual adaptation and further development of the monitoring solution, such as extending the platform with other sensor types«.

Linda Nelles-Ziegler, Project Lead SensFArM


Project film »SensFArM«