Mobile Tech to Aid in Detecting Plant Diseases

Technology that users can plug into a mobile phone can now be used to detect and analyze agricultural samples to identify plant diseases without needing to submit samples to a lab. Currently, the diagnosis of diseased material can take between days and weeks as labs run a gamut of tests on the tissue. The new technology, being developed by North Carolina State University, intends to significantly speed up the detection rate to enable farmers and agricultural researchers a reliable tool to detect plant disease before it becomes a menace.

The technology uses a single leaf from an affected plant, placed into a test tube, which is then capped and left for fifteen minutes. After this, the researcher would transfer the test tube to the reader device, which takes the gas trapped in the container for analysis. The reader device contains a single test stop which will change color in the presence of disease, depending on what it detects. Using a mobile phone’s camera and an included application, a researcher can determine exactly what condition he or she is dealing with.

Brand New Technology

The tech is still in its testing phase, but early results seem very positive. Researchers deliberately infected a plant with a known pathogen and then performed the test using the device. The device registered the correct result, offering hope for the success of the technology moving forward. Currently, there is no comparable technology on the market that can perform plant pathogen testing as fast as this technology. It could become a handy tool in rural locations where testing may be difficult for local farmers to get.

Researchers intend to update the device with pathogens that are native to some regions of the globe, increasing the usability within multiple areas. It is the first technology of its kind and may have a significant impact on the productivity of agricultural sectors in the developing world.