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A team of scientists from Lobachevsky University in collaboration with researchers from the RAS Institute of Applied Physics developed a prototype device which predicts plant diseases in a laboratory environment. The project funded under a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) and led by Vladimir Sukhov, Associate Professor at the Biophysics Department of the UNN Institute of Biology and Biomedicine, was recognised  by the RSF among the top 10 most significant projects nationwide in 2021.

The device uses the method of remote plant monitoring to diagnose the stress experienced by the plant in its early development stages, based on photographs taken in the green and yellow spectral bands.

Project leader Vladimir Sukhov: "Remote monitoring helps to detect plant damage by stressors at an early stage and to localize the zone of such damage, which allows protective measures to be applied only to the affected plants and in a timely manner. Measuring the reflected light in the visible range is the most promising way to analyse plant health, as reflectance of the plants is closely linked to their physiological and biochemical processes and the measurement of reflected light is a relatively simple method from the technical point of view".

According to scientists at Lobachevsky University, the plant begins to reflect light differently (stronger or weaker) in certain spectral bands when stress develops. This effect occurs much earlier than can be noticed by human eye. Two photographs in narrow spectral bands taken under illumination with green-yellow light make it possible to determine accurately enough areas of future damage in the green plants, and such damage can usually be prevented.

This research is a breakthrough development in the field of modern agricultural technology, as there are currently no industrial methods for detecting plant damage even for mass crops. By using the prototype device developed at Lobachevsky University, it will be possible to minimise crop losses in the future.