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Early alert of disease for arable crops from FOTENIX

Meet the Network

FOTENIX uses a patented spectral camera and light setup to provide early warning of disease in oil seed rape (OSR) and wheat crops. It is developing a monitor that can be mounted on a tractor or robot, such as those from Small Robot Company or Saga Robotics, enabling early detection and intervention before significant losses.

The system has been shown to be capable of detecting light leaf spot and phoma in OSR and septoria in wheat in days, compared to months by traditional methods. Through continuous monitoring it can also provide evidence of disease control or re-emergence post-application.

FOTENIX will be talking about its tractor mounted disease alert system in the Innovation Hub at the 2023 Royal Norfolk Show; ahead of the Show we asked Charles Veys about developments.

Controlled environment agriculture is really our bread and butter at the moment – glasshouses, polytunnels. For these environments, the system can be used out-of-the-box to provide early detection of disease and precision application of a treatment.

We are looking to extend the functionality of the technology to develop a tractor mounted system that would provide continuous monitoring of the crop each time you pass through it on a tractor, looking for fungal disease and weeds such as blackgrass.

SPRAYBot Field Trials with FOTENIX tech (web)
FOTENIX Enabled Diagnostics mounted on a tractor

In trials at Cockle Park Farm, we’ve found that leaf spot in oil seed rape can be discovered within five or six days of infection, whereas usually you wouldn’t see it in the field for about four or five months. This enables a larger window for control of the disease.

A tractor-based system would be cheaper than using a drone and would reduce the amount of fieldwalking done by agronomists. If you were able to give the agronomist a map showing the areas of concern, they can be more efficient and cover a wider area.

We are good at detection but would prefer to work with an agronomist to provide diagnosis and recommendations. There are a number of reasons for that, but we don’t want to over-prescribe. An agronomist is best placed to decide what kind of coverage of disease is acceptable, as there is a trade-off between cost of the product and impact on yield.

Farmers often say they can’t see the impact of an application, but with our system they would be able to see if the disease is being controlled or continues to spread. This would provide evidence for new treatments, particularly biological alternatives.

We have demonstrated that the system works over two metres but we are looking for 24 metres to gain real traction and we are working towards a demonstration of that next year.

We are working closely with other technology companies to enable inter-operability with existing farm management systems.

Being demonstrated on the stand

FOTENIX Enabled Diagnostics – live demonstration of disease and weed detection on a tractor-mounted unit with screen.

Digital Agronomy – a digital twin of the field generated by Fotenix which shows hot spots for disease in the crop.

FOTENIX is appearing in the Innovation Hub at the 2023 Royal Norfolk Show.
Read more about the 2023 Innovation Hub >>

Innovation Hub 2023