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Listening to what plants have to say

Listening to what plants have to say

Vivent uses technology to understand if plants are under stress

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Though walking through a field or greenhouse may seem like a quiet experience, the plants are actually speaking.

Through electrophysiology, plants can sense and respond to many changes in their environment, both above and below ground.

And Vivent, a Swiss precision ag company, has developed biosensors capable of understanding what messages plants are trying to communicate.

These sensors are installed and remain in place permanently on long life crops. They’re solar powered and can identify multiple pieces of information.

“We have identified various signals, and they are mostly the plant talking to itself about the kind of stresses it’s experiencing,” Norm Janssen, a business development specialist with Vivent, told Farms.com.

This includes instances when a plant may not be showing visible signs of stress.

“A farmer might not be able to see that a plant is lacking moisture, but the plant can give off signals saying that it is,” Janssen said.

Vivent’s biosensors can also identify nutrient deficiencies like calcium and magnesium. In addition, it can differentiate between insects and diseases.

“We can tell the difference between a thrip and a caterpillar,” he said.

One item Janssen stressed is Vivent doesn’t provide recommendations for how the producer manages the plant’s issues.

Those decisions are left to the farmer and his or her crop support system.

“We can send email or text alerts to the growers that their plants are experiencing stress, but how a grower manages that stress is up to them and their agronomists,” Janssen said.

Janssen is one of the more than 30 speakers scheduled to appear at the Precision Agriculture Conference and Ag Tech Showcase in Red Deer, Alta. beginning on Nov. 23.

His presentation will focus on Vivent’s technology, its algorithms, and the return on investment, he said.

The deadline for attendees to register for the conference is Nov. 21.




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