plant stress management

Plant Health News

Crop-Scan™: Air scanning to detect crop stress and improve yield

Monday, 29 September 2014
Latest news | Crop-Scan®

Bioiberica presents the first ever crop scan service using manned aircraft for the early diagnosis of crop stress even before farmers can visually detect the first symptoms.

This state-of-the-art technology, based on thermal sensors and tele detection spectrometry, takes thousands of images of the crops and creates detailed maps depicting individual tress and giving detailed information of their current situation.

Extreme temperatures, droughts or pests are some of the elements causing crop stress that may affect their growth and yield potential.

This new service is the fruit of more than 10 years of joint research among the CSIC’ Institute of sustainable agriculture and Bioiberica, and was presented this morning at the BioSpain congress being held in Galicia. 

Santiago de Compostela, September 25th, 2014. Extreme temperatures, droughts, salinity, excess or lack of light, heavy metal contamination or infections are some of the elements causing crop stress that may affect their growth and yield potential. This is why anticipation, precision and a quick riposte are the keys to detecting and reacting to these problems. 

Spanish biotech company Bioiberica has developed Crop-Scan™, an innovative new technology that allows one to diagnostic crop stress, one tree at a time. A series of research agreements with Quantalab (Laboratory for Quantitative Teledetection Methods of the Institute of Sustainable Agriculture) from Cordoba have allowed us to develop these technologies that now are made available and marketed by Bioiberica. These are based on the use of thermal and hyper spectrometer cameras mounted in manned light aircraft to scan and photograph all the hectares of a given plot. “The method used to detect pre-visual and early stress in crops is based on physical tele detection models currently in use in precision farming”, said Dr. Pablo J. Zarco, Quantalab director and project’s researcher.

The images thus obtained allow one to make a number of maps with pixel detail from 5cm onwards, without limits to the number of hectares analyzed. These maps show:

- Crop temperature and hydration (CWSI index).

Chlorophyll content. This may be associated with nutrition deficiencies and lack of nitrogen, iron or foliar zinc (TCARI, MCARI, OSAVI indexes).

- Productivity, quantity, quality and plant development (NDVI and LAI indexes).

- photosynthesis related-indexes, which are associated with fruit quality parameters, such as sugar contents and acidity (PRI index).

Crop-Scan™ is the only worldwide service that analyses these four parameters with such an elevated degree of precision. This allows farmers to have a trustworthy and rapid picture of the state of each tree in large plots, before symptoms may be observed by the naked eye.

We are talking here authentic precision agriculture, which will suppose a revolutionary leap forward in agriculture management-in the future, agriculture technicians will only take measures for those plants needing it. In this way, we gain in efficacy, saving water, fertilizers and phytosanitary products. In large production plots this may lead to major savings and crop yield”, declared Cándido Marín, R&D expert at Bioiberica. This is corroborated by José María Filgueiras, expert in citrus production and user of the Crop-Scan™ service: “Thanks to this service, we managed to bring forward harvest time in more than 50 percent of the crop in a citrus-producing plot of more than 200 hectares at Alicante. And, depending on the year, an advanced crop may well have a price 50-70 percent higher than a delayed crop”.

Another example is grapevine cultivation. The information provided by Crop-Scan™ allows to know the degree of maturation of a plot’s vines, so technicians may select only those grapevines having the same degree of maturation.

High-resolution tele detection products applied to precision agriculture allow us to evaluate uniformity in the growth and development of crops in critical phenological states, maximizing fruit yield and quality. This is how we can increase plot uniformity and improve farmer’s benefits,” added Dr. Zarco.

The service is now available with a cost of 12-20€ per hectare. Owners receive a report within 72 hours. “At Bioiberica we want to anticipate ourselves to stress, know what is going on in plots almost in real time, and help farmers to optimize costs and yield. With Crop-Scan we have managed to have a completely personalized service that has the scientific endorsement of CSIC”, concluded José Escaich, Bioiberica’s managing director. 

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