Plants feel down too! Stress in plants can now be measured

The technology is designed to detect stressful plant conditions, including drought, heat, cold and light stress

Festival Net Zero 2021

Boffins have invented a way of measuring stress in plants.

Researchers at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL) have developed a portable optical sensor that can monitor whether a plant is under stress.

The study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests the device can be used to detect stressful plant conditions, including drought, heat, cold and light stress.

The technology is designed to offer farmers and scientists a new tool for early diagnosis and real-time monitoring of plant health.

The team believes their findings can support farming practices to maximise crop yield, ensure minimal negative environmental impacts and minimise marine pollution by reducing nitrogen runoff.

MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Rajeev Ram said: “We demonstrated that early diagnosis of nitrogen deficiency, a critical nutrient and the most important component of fertilisers in living plants is possible with the portable sensor.”

Professor Nam-Hai Chua, Co-lead of the study said: “Extension of this work to a wider variety of crops may contribute globally to improved crop yields, greater climate resiliency, and mitigation of environmental pollution through reduced fertiliser use.”

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