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Crop-Scan®: aerial scanning to detect crop stress and improve production

25 Sep 2014
Plant Health

Bioibérica presents the first crop scanning service from manned light aircraft for the early diagnosis of stress before the farmer can detect the symptoms visuallyThis innovative technology, based on thermal sensors and spectrometry by remote detection, takes thousands of pictures above crops and generates detailed maps of the state of each tree
Extreme temperatures, drought and pests are just some of the factors that cause crop stress and affect crop growth and yield potentialThe new service we market is the outcome of 10 years of joint research by the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (CSIC) and Bioibérica and was presented at the Biospain biotech congress in Galicia this morning

Extreme temperatures, drought, salinity, excess or lack of light, heavy metal contamination and infections are just some of the factors that cause plant stress and which can impact the quality and quantity of harvests. That's why anticipation, precision and a speedy response when it comes to detecting and acting on these problems is crucial for farmers. 

Biotech firm Bioibérica has developed Crop-Scan®, an innovative technology that makes it possible to diagnose crop stress on a tree by tree level. Research agreements with the Laboratory for Research Methods in Quantitative Remote Sensing  (Quantalab) at the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (CSIC) in Cordoba have allowed us to develop the methodologies now available and marketed by Bioibérica. They are based on thermal and hyper-spectral imaging cameras mounted on manned light aircraft which scan and photograph all of the hectares on a farm. “The methods used for pre-visual and early stress detection in crops are based on physical remote sensing models applied to precision farming,” said  Dr. Pablo J. Zarco, Quantalab director and the project's principal investigator. 

The images obtained make it possible to draw up various maps with pixel details starting from 5 cm, with no limit to the hectares analysed, indicating: 

·        Crop temperature and hydration (CWSI index). 
·        Chlorophyll content, which can be related to nutritional deficiencies and the leaves' nitrogen, iron and zinc content (TCARI, MCARI and OSAVI indices). 
·        Plant productivity, quantity, quality and development (NDVI and LAI indices). 
·        An index related to photosynthesis and therefore fruit quality parameters, such as sugar and acidity content (PRI index). 

Crop-Scan is the only worldwide service to analyse these four parameters with such a high level of precision. This means farmers have a reliable and rapid photograph of the state of each tree on large plots, before symptoms can be detected visually. 

We are talking about true precision farming, which will mean a revolutionary leap forwards in agriculture management given that farmers will only have to take measures on those plants that need them. This will make farming more efficient and also save on water, fertilisers and phytosanitary products. For large farms dedicated to production it can result in a very important saving and improvement in yield,”, said Cándido Marín, Bioibérica R&D technician. His view is seconded by José María Filgueiras, a technical consultant specialising in citrus fruits and a user of the Crop-Scan® service: “We used the service on a farm of more than 200 hectares in the Alicante area, dedicated to citrus fruits, and it brought more than 50% of the crop forward An advanced crop can sell for between 50% and 70% more than a late crop, depending on the year ”.

Another example is the case of vines. The information that Crop-Scan provides makes it possible to know the degree of ripening of the stock on a plot, meaning that the technician has the luxury of selecting only grapes with the same degree of ripening. 

High-resolution remote sensing products applied to precision farming enable us to assess uniformity in crop growth and development in critical phenological states and maximise the yield and quality of the fruit. This raises the uniformity of the plot and brings the farmer increased profit margins, ” added Dr. Zarco. 

The service is already available, costs between €12 and €20 per hectare and the owner gets the report in under 72 hours. “Bioibérica wanted to cut stress off before it appeared, find out what happens to crops in almost real time and help farmers optimise costs and boost their production With Crop-Scan we have achieved a fully customised service that has been scientifically vouchsafed by the CSIC”, said Bioibérica CEO José Escaich

About Bioibérica 

Bioibérica is a Spanish biotech firm specialising in the research, development and sale of natural products and biomolecules for human, animal and plant health. It has become the world leader in heparin, joint health and, within agriculture, crop stress management. It has more than 27 years of experience in this field, operates in 65 countries, and more than 1.5 million hectares around the world are treated with the company's natural products, thanks to the development of over 1,200 scientific and field studies.