Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

New device can detect crop pathogens by smell

The E-nose could smell the earliest signals of diseases such as potato blight long before they become visually apparent
The E-nose could smell the earliest signals of diseases such as potato blight long before they become visually apparent

A new electronic bloodhound capable of sniffing out plant disease will shortly be available for use across the agricultural industry.

Dubbed an E-Nose, the equipment has been developed by engineers and scientists to detect crop pathogens by smell weeks before any infection becomes outwardly apparent or evident on any visual basis.

“It’s an amazing tool for early detection,” commented Kit Franklin, a lecturer of agricultural engineering at Harper Adams University.

Mr Franklin revealed the technological advance during a discussion on the latest sensors, robotics and automation at the SRUC and AHDB’s joint Agronomy 2017 (Scotland) forum, staged at Perth Racecourse this week.

He said E-Noses will potentially be able to give arable farmers as much as a two-week head start when it comes to controlling a wide variety of plant diseases – from fungi to oomycetes, bacteria, viruses and nematodes.

“The equipment can effectively smell disease long before any human is able to see it coming,” commented Mr Franklin.

Early trials, he added, have proved the technology capable of detecting particularly destructive fungus-like organisms such as potato blight, which is one of the most devastating crop diseases in agriculture.

Blight currently leaves UK growers around £20million out of pocket each year in fungicides costs to keep it in check.

“For farmers, early detection absolutely allows for early action and in the arable industry every day gained can have a hugely positive knock-on effect,” Mr Franklin said.

“In theory, they will allow farmers to nip crop diseases in the bud before they get the chance to progress beyond the earliest stages of development.”

The electronic sensing systems have been around for several years but have typically been large and expensive.

Recent research has been focused on making the devices smaller, less expensive and more sensitive.

They originally evolved for use in quality control applications in the food, beverage and cosmetics industries, although they are now also used for medical diagnosis, as well as for the detection of pollutants and gas leaks for environmental protection.

Models adapted by engineers for use in the farming industry now look not dissimilar to hand-held walkie talkies.

Mr Franklin said scientists are in the process of programming agri E-Noses to capture the odours associated with each specific arable crop disease, after which they will be made available for commercial use.

As they have to be ‘tuned’ to specific chemicals, they will only be able to detect one disease at a time.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]