Meet the FieldDock: A Smart-Farm System for Sustainable Agriculture

The FieldDock prototype has arrived! This innovative new smart-farm system, designed for sustainable agriculture, was set in motion through grants from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Science Foundation. “It’s here. It was delivered at 2 PM,” said Nadia Shakoor, PhD, senior research scientist and principal investigator on a Wednesday in March. “While the looks may continue to change, it’s fully functional and we accomplished everything we wanted to do.”

Members of the Shakoor lab with the prototype FieldDock at the Danforth Center. This integrated smart farm system is a step toward greater precision agriculture availability.

That functionality is extensive: the FieldDock is an all-in-one system that integrates a sensor base station with a remote wireless sensor network and autonomous UAV drone, all of which runs on renewable energy. Daily data collection takes place on measurable plant traits, water usage, overall environmental and soil conditions, as well as daily snapshots of how a crop is performing in real world conditions.

Introducing FieldDock

This robust data is then analyzed in the field via edge and cloud computing to produce real-time actionable information via an intuitive online user interface. It offers a comprehensive solution for enhancing crop breeding, performance measurement, and farm management, embodying the forefront of field phenotyping research to meet future agricultural challenges.

We had a team of experts—remote sensing, engineering, computer science, plant science—all working together to take FieldDock from concept to reality.

Nadia Shakoor, PhD
Senior Research Scientist and PI


Partners in Progress

The prototype was created in collaboration with Agrela Ecosystems, the tech company spun out of the Danforth Center by Shakoor in 2016 and partners from the Taylor Geospatial Institute at Saint Louis University.

FieldDock represents a step toward the future of data-driven agriculture, ushering in a new era of precision farming and breeding research. Its potential to optimize crop productivity and conserve resources underscores its importance in the face of a changing climate.

Innovation to Save the Planet

Our founder, Dr. William Danforth, believed that by working together, and informed by science, humans could achieve solutions to our greatest challenges. Innovation is crucial for the future of sustainable agriculture. If you would like to support this work, please visit our donate page.


A version of this story originally appeared in the Leaflet, the free newsletter of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Sign up to receive more stories like this straight to your inbox.