Each year, plant diseases cause a worldwide loss of hundreds of billions. Now researchers think they can help reduce that with a new type of sensor.
How it works: A new technique involves using light to measure organic substances emitted by plants themselves that say something about crop health and the presence of disease or pests. An electronic nose has been used as a sensor for this before, but these are often not sensitive enough and often deteriorate quickly over time. Now a light sensor should provide a more stable and accurate measurement.
Ultimately, this – in combination with artificial intelligence – should provide a much more sustainable means of combat. In which we examine much more precisely what is wrong and what can be the best solution. Preferably, of course, without using chemical control, but if necessary then only where no other solution will work and no more than the minimum amount required.
The technique will be the first to be tested by UK researchers under strawberries, a fruit which is worth around £350million a year in Britain but is extremely susceptible to certain types of aphids.
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