In Washington, D.C., researchers developed a new imaging system designed to monitor the health of crops in the field or a greenhouse. The new technology could save farmers time and money by enabling intelligent agricultural equipment to automatically provide water or nutrients at the first signs of distress. With further development, the system has the potential to be used aboard unmanned aerial vehicles to remotely monitor crops.
The imaging system detects fluorescence emitted from chlorophyll, a pigment that gives plants their green color and is essential for absorbing the sunlight plants use to create energy through photosynthesis.
In one picture, the new crop imager can capture fluorescence from seven or eight seedlings, depending on their size. These additional plants provide enough data to get a true picture of crop health from just one image. The researchers also incorporated a scanning mechanism that increases the imaging area to 2 meters wide.