Plant disease diagnostic system gets funding
© James de Mers

Plant disease diagnostic system gets funding

A Hungarian research project that aims to turn microclimatic and organic data into plant disease forecasts to end the overuse of pesticides in agriculture has won funding under Horizon 2020.

The project, run by the company SmartVineyard, has secured a grant worth €1m from the European Commission. The technology intends to address the challenges of grape protection directives by allowing remote plant disease monitoring and comprehensive decision support with on-site sensors and an intuitive, web based user interface.

Automated predictions of fungal diseases and microclimate monitoring helps produce the highest quality crop with minimal yield loss. The Horizon 2020 funding is expected to be used for scaling up the SmartVineyard system to become fully operational by developing precision sensors and adapting the monitoring system for additional plant cultures.

Speaking about the new technology, Csaba Arendas, chief executive of SmartVineyard, said: “Agriculturists frequently base their decisions of when to spray on intuitions and are, understandably, overly cautious, leading to a significant overuse of pesticides. We strongly believe that unlocking the power of very qualitative and quantitative agro-data sets could revolutionise plant protection activities.”

Last year, the potential of the technology was showcased during the ‘Intel Global Challenge’, where the innovation was ranked among the top ten out of 20,000 applicants at the Silicon Valley contest. Precision agriculture innovations aiming to streamline production and optimise performance are expected to attract greater attention in the future in order to help reduce food insecurity. The SmartVineyard solution is already commercialised and is currently used by dozens of viticulturists in Europe.