Researchers are developing drones that could detect plant disease before any visible signs show, allowing farmers to stop infections in their tracks.
Disease can negatively impact plant health before any visible signs like leaf discolouration show. While these stresses are invisible to the naked eye, cameras using special filters could detect these subtle changes.
Now, [Imperial College London] researchers … are partnering with agriculture services company Agrii to create cameras mounted on drones. These cameras could automatically detect early disease stages, and tell farmers when to spray, before the disease damages the crop.
Chris Adams, who is taking on the project for his PhD, said: “Allowing farmers to identify stress before full infection occurs is particularly important as the climate changes. An unpredictable environment makes it challenging to track and forecast disease.
“Diseases reduce yields when we need them to be high, as the global population grows and we need to feed more people than ever. Reducing yield loss to diseases like Septoria will allow us to grow more food, more efficiently and on less land, benefiting the agricultural industry, the public and the environment.”
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