Sensor could detect plants in distress and help cut pesticide use

By on August 20, 2012
Corn tassels

University of Georgia researchers are working to turn technology that detects compounds emitted by diseased plants into field-ready devices that could lower pesticide use and save farmers money, according to a release from the university.

The compounds, called green leaf volatiles, are invisible and odorless to humans and often released long before any outward signs of trouble show. By detecting problems earlier, crop loss and disease transmission can be diminished.

The technology can be applied in a grid pattern to quarantine pathogens in one sector of a field, localizing and reducing the application of crop treatment. It can also be used to catch unhealthy fruits or vegetables awaiting distribution.

Research into the project is ongoing and the team looks to have a device ready for testing soon. An article describing their efforts was recently published in the the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Analyst.

Image credit: Huw Williams via Wikimedia Commons.

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