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Environmentally friendly fungal disease management in protected crop production using plant genetic resources and sensor technology (END-IT)

The aim of the project is to ensure high quality, value added food supply via minimal use of synthetic chemicals by integrating advanced technologies, optical radiation and exploitation of plant genetic resources.

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Grey mould and powdery mildew spores imaged with a first prototype of the field microscope. The smaller fungal spores are around 5 x 10 micrometres in diameter.

Ensuring an adequate food supply for the escalating human population is a great challenge. Crop losses and value degradation caused by plant diseases are major constraints to food security globally. Fungicides are important tools in management of plant diseases caused by fungal and oomycete pathogens. However, reliance on fungicides is not sustainable in the long run due to development of fungicide resistance, concerns regarding health effects and costs associated with pesticide removal from water resources. Integration and use of new, non-chemical strategies are therefore crucial for continued production of high-quality food in a sustainable manner.

The END-IT project focuses on systems and strategies for management of fungal diseases with non-chemical options. The project partners are BIOVIT-NMBU (project leader, plant genetic research, optical treatment of fungal diseases), SINTEF (spore detection system), Wageningen University (screening and selection), NIBIO (socio-economic analysis), Bama Gruppen AS (end-user) and Gartnerhallen (end-user).

SINTEF's main contribution to END-IT will be development of a technical solution for online detection and quantification of pathogen inoculum presence in the plant surrounding. The innovation includes development of a low-cost field microscope that can image fungal spores which have diameters as small as 5 micrometres, and development of machine vision algorithms that can classify the spores.

The spore detection system will be combined with NMBU's work on optical treatment of fungal diseases, and together this will constitute an optical crop treatment system that ensures sustainable and environmentally friendly crop production of high-quality produce. Improved crop yield, reduced waste, and reduced use of fungicides will increase profitability to society.

Key Factors

Project duration

2020 - 2024

Funded by

Matfondavtalen and Grofondet