Smart Scale for Advanced Crop Growth Tracking in Real-Time

Greg Howard
16th March, 2024

Smart Scale for Advanced Crop Growth Tracking in Real-Time

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • A new tool, LysipheN, measures how well plants use water, crucial for farming in a changing climate
  • LysipheN is affordable, waterproof, and can monitor plants from seedling to maturity in various settings
  • The device's successful tests on beans suggest it can be adapted for other crops to aid breeding
Climate change is rapidly reshaping the environment, with water scarcity becoming an increasingly critical issue for agriculture. As the planet warms, farmers face the challenge of growing crops under conditions of limited water availability and fluctuating weather patterns. To adapt to these changes and ensure food security, it's essential to identify crop varieties that can thrive under stress while using water efficiently. A recent study by The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT has introduced a groundbreaking tool to tackle this challenge[1]. The newly developed LysipheN system is an automated, cost-effective device designed to measure the transpiration efficiency of plants—the rate at which plants absorb water through their roots and release it through their leaves. This is a key indicator of how well a plant can cope with drought conditions. Transpiration efficiency is a complex trait influenced by various physiological processes and environmental interactions. For instance, previous research has shown that in quinoa, varieties differ in their growth strategies under salt stress, which affects their water use efficiency[2]. Similarly, understanding the genetic diversity within plant populations can provide insights into their capacity to adapt to climate change[3]. The LysipheN system offers a practical way to assess these traits by monitoring individual plants in different settings, such as farms, fields, or greenhouses. The device integrates multiple sensors and an automatic irrigation system that can simulate specific drought scenarios. It's equipped with a wireless connection, allowing researchers to remotely monitor plant and device performance in near-real time. This technology is particularly valuable because it can track plant transpiration from the earliest growth stages through to maturity. During its testing phase, the LysipheN proved sensitive enough to detect and measure the transpiration of common beans, demonstrating its potential applicability to a variety of crops. Its waterproof design, durability, and affordability make it an ideal tool for large-scale screening of plant populations. This enables researchers and breeders to identify the most suitable parental lines for breeding programs and characterize genebank accessions. The development of LysipheN aligns with the need for innovative approaches to breeding crop varieties resilient to water stress. Traditional breeding methods have led to the creation of early maturing cultivars that can escape terminal water stress by matching water supply and demand[4]. However, these methods often fall short due to the complex interactions between plant traits and environmental factors. The LysipheN system can aid in overcoming these challenges by providing detailed phenotypic data that can be integrated into crop models to predict yield outcomes under varying water stress scenarios. By enabling the functional characterization of plant traits in realistic agronomic conditions, LysipheN can support the selection of crop varieties with the genetic potential to withstand climate instability. This tool represents a significant advancement in the field of agricultural research, offering a new way to navigate the complexities of plant-environment interactions. With the help of such technologies, it may be possible to develop crops that can maintain productivity in the face of increasingly unpredictable climate patterns, ultimately contributing to global food security.

AgricultureBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) LysipheN: a gravimetric IoT device for near real-time high-frequency crop phenotyping: a case study on common beans.

Published 14th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) High-Resolution Analysis of Growth and Transpiration of Quinoa Under Saline Conditions.

3) Running to stand still: adaptation and the response of plants to rapid climate change.

4) Water: the most important 'molecular' component of water stress tolerance research.

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