Home   News

Researchers use Science of Light to Reduce Pesticides used to Protect Crops from Pests and Diseases

Researchers use Science of Light to Reduce Pesticides used to Protect Crops from Pests and Diseases

Experts at two Midlands universities are starting a new project to develop a photonic 'nose' to monitor crops for pest infestations and plant disease.

Aston University is collaborating with Harper Adams University to research and develop technology using light to monitor crop health.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations up to 40 percent of global crop production is lost to pests annually. Each year,  cost the  over $220 billion, and invasive insects at least $70 billion.

The Midlands-based research will be using strawberries to test the new technology. The fruit is worth £350 million to the UK economy but it is vulnerable to potato aphid which has the potential to wipe out an annual harvest.

Currently crops are treated with pesticides, but there's increasing pressure to find alternatives due to the environmental impact.

One method is to use  (IPM) to create an early warning system. It monitors plants for build-up of insects and diseases rather than spraying plants with chemicals, but so far it's proven unreliable and expensive.

The new project uses recent developments in photonics technology that can analyze low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants, which indicate their health. This is coupled with machine learning hardware which makes it practical to use artificial intelligence in commercial settings. Professor David Webb of Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) says that "better invertebrate pest and plant disease monitoring technologies will significantly help cut crop losses."

"However most electronic noses use electrochemical sensors, which suffer from sensitivity issues, sensor drift/aging effects and lack specificity."

"We intend to address this by building on the fast-moving technology of photonics—the science of light—whilst collaborating with scientists in other disciplines."

Click here to see more...

Trending Video

SEC Proposed Climate Rule Could Hurt Agriculture

Video: SEC Proposed Climate Rule Could Hurt Agriculture

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering new climate disclosure rules for publicly traded companies that could also have an impact on farmers and ranchers.