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Robotic volatile sampling for early detection of plant stress


Geckeler, Christian; Ramos, Sergio E; Schuman, Meredith Christine; Mintchev, Stefano (2023). Robotic volatile sampling for early detection of plant stress. IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, 30(4):41-51.

Abstract

Global agriculture is challenged to provide food for a human population that is larger than ever before, and still increasing. This is accompanied by the need to reduce the large global impacts of agriculture while increasing yields. Early identification of plant stress enables fast intervention to limit crop losses, and optimized application of pesticides and fertilizer to reduce environmental impacts. Current image-based approaches identify plant stress responses hours or days after the stress event, usually only after substantial damage has occurred and visual cues become apparent. In contrast, plant volatiles are released seconds to hours after stress events, and can quickly indicate both the type and severity of stress. An automatable and non-disruptive sampling method is needed to enable the use of plant volatiles for monitoring plant stress in precision agriculture. In this work, we detail the development of a plant volatile sampler that can be deployed and collected with an uncrewed aerial vehicle. The effect of sampling flow rate, horizontal distance to volatile source, and overhead downwash on collected volatiles is investigated, along with the deployment accuracy and retrieval successes with manual flight. Finally, volatile sampling is validated in outdoor tests. The possibility of robotic collection of plant volatiles is a first and important step towards the use of chemical signals for early stress detection and opens up new avenues for precision agriculture beyond visual remote sensing.

Abstract

Global agriculture is challenged to provide food for a human population that is larger than ever before, and still increasing. This is accompanied by the need to reduce the large global impacts of agriculture while increasing yields. Early identification of plant stress enables fast intervention to limit crop losses, and optimized application of pesticides and fertilizer to reduce environmental impacts. Current image-based approaches identify plant stress responses hours or days after the stress event, usually only after substantial damage has occurred and visual cues become apparent. In contrast, plant volatiles are released seconds to hours after stress events, and can quickly indicate both the type and severity of stress. An automatable and non-disruptive sampling method is needed to enable the use of plant volatiles for monitoring plant stress in precision agriculture. In this work, we detail the development of a plant volatile sampler that can be deployed and collected with an uncrewed aerial vehicle. The effect of sampling flow rate, horizontal distance to volatile source, and overhead downwash on collected volatiles is investigated, along with the deployment accuracy and retrieval successes with manual flight. Finally, volatile sampling is validated in outdoor tests. The possibility of robotic collection of plant volatiles is a first and important step towards the use of chemical signals for early stress detection and opens up new avenues for precision agriculture beyond visual remote sensing.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:1 December 2023
Deposited On:14 Sep 2023 13:35
Last Modified:30 Mar 2024 04:41
Publisher:Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ISSN:1070-9932
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1109/MRA.2023.3315932
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English