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2023-03-15T00:30:00.0000000Z
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Drones can assess the severity of crop diseases

Earth.com

Earth.com staff writer
Since rice is one of the most important crops in the world, constituting the primary food source for more than half of the Earth’s population, protecting rice plantations from disease such as bacterial blight (BB) – an infection caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas oryzae that leads to losses of hundreds of millions of dollars each year – is essential in modern agriculture. 

Although one of the best strategies to control BB and other crop diseases is to grow genetically resistant cultivars, since pathogens often evolve rapidly, scientists have to constantly explore new genes that could offer resistance and apply them to breeding. To be able to do this, they must regularly sample multiple rice plants at different times of the year and measure their responses to bacterial infection, which is a manually intensive and time-consuming labor.

Now, a research team led by Zhejiang University (ZJU) has developed an innovative method combining unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, popularly known as drones) and machine learning algorithms to assess BB outbreaks in the field and screen for potentially resistant genes. After setting up two experimental sites in the Zhejiang Province in China containing 60 types of rice cultivars with different resistances to BB, the experts used drones equipped with regular and multispectral cameras to image the crop sites at different stages of development. Afterwards, they combined these images with accumulated temperature (AT) data and used them to train a deep learning computer model to evaluate the severity of BB. 

Read on: https://www.earth.com/news/drones-can-assess-the-severity-of-crop-diseases/

Rice
Drones
QLT

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