Imaging technology spots potato disease earlier

Researchers are using drones and imaging technology to detect signs of plant disease.

Amanda Gevens studies diseases in potatoes, and by using special imaging technology and a drone, she says they have identified a spectral signature for early blight, helping them take action sooner. “We are seeing infection probably about two weeks before we normally see lesions in the field, so this is significant and this led to some further research where we can now target the pathogen and the disease.”

Gevens says in time, the technology could be applied to other crops but there will be a lot of research before that happens. “With spectral profiling with the hyperspectral imaging, it is crop-specific and also maybe varietally specific in some instances, so we have more to learn, but right now, we’re committed to fully developing this in potato.”

Gevens says the early detection can lead to different management approaches in the future, which might include targeted applications and lower fungicide rates.

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