Burkhard and Rothamsted Research are developing an automatic volumetric air sampler which collects airborne particles such fungal spores. Spore sampler warns of presence of disease in real time so that crops can be protected accordingly. Currently it is possible to detect potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans) and is being developed for OSR Sclerotinia, a range of vegetable and sugar beet diseases and Yellow Rust of wheat.
How it Works
Sampling 300 litres of air per minute, spores are collected and their DNA chemically released for qPCR analysis. Spore traps have a 4G router which sends quantitative fluorescent signal data to the Amazon Web Services Cloud for back-reporting of crop infection risk. As well as the currently available potato late blight analysis, sampling for Sclerotinia in OSR, wheat yellow rust and Sugar Beet airborne fungi are in development. The instrument is set up to run multiple separate assays using the same sample, so when the markers are commercially available, it can monitor for several different pathogens a day.
What are the benefits to a Farmer / Agronomist
Farmers and Agronomists can use the information to better time the application of fungicides – delaying applications when spore counts are low, with evident cost savings and environmental benefits. It is simple to operate so can be managed by the farmer and can run without user-intervention for up to 8 days.
Who are the key researchers in this area?