Low-Cost Real-Time Sensor Network for Large-Area Pest and Disease Surveillance of Crop Plants
Hanseup Kim of the University of Utah in the U.S. will develop small, ultra-low power, chemical sensors that can be distributed around farms to help detect crop diseases in low-resource settings. Plants under attack from pests and diseases release low levels of volatile organic compounds that could be used as an early warning system to reduce crop losses, which can be substantial. They will design chemical sensors that trigger a change in electrical conductivity when they bind a target compound to minimize energy consumption so that they can be operated over the eight-month farming season in low-resource settings. The sensors will first be developed to bind trace levels of hexenol, hexenal, or indole, which are released from damaged maize and sorghum. They will optimize sensitivity by testing different sensor materials and correlate compound detection with different types and stages of crop damage. They will also evaluate wireless monitoring of multiple sensors distributed around a small plot of crops ready for scaling up to future in-field testing on these and other crops. Note: This grant is funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).