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Portable plant scanner is a Fitbit for growers

Agriculture & Energy

Phenocart is a portable device that can quickly gather physical plant data in large crops, with a modular arm for uploading various sensors.

We’ve seen how lasers can assist farmers when managing growing crops, and now a graduate student has developed a FitBit-style device for plant breeders.

The Phenocart, developed by Jared Cain of the Plant Pathology department of Kansas State University, features an array of sensors on an arm attached to a re-appropriated bicycle wheel. As the Phenocart is pushed between rows of crops, it quickly gathers and stores data on physical plant characteristics (phenotypes), such as leaf greeness, height and temperature, all of which provide feedback for breeders on the state of their crops’ health. Traditionally, this work is done by manually checking plants, but the Phenocart can reliably and rapidly gather vast amounts of data, and users are also able to add other sensors onto the arm to address their needs.

Could similar plant sensors be developed commercially for at-home gardeners?



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