Use of ICT in plant pathology

 ICT in plant pathology

Information and communication technology in agriculture is developing and applying innovative
ways to use ICTs in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture. ICT in agriculture
offers a wide range of solutions to some agricultural challenges. It is seen as an emerging field
focusing on the enhancement of agricultural and rural development through improved
information and communication processes. This paper shall focus on the use of ICT in plant
pathology. No matter the distance or time spotting of plant diseases, consultation with experts,
access to global data and analysis and disease identification and the remedial solution has been easy
with ICT. Geographic Information System, Radiofrequency Identification

Mobile applications help in identification of diseases associated with the crop. In case of a crop
disease farmer clicks a picture of the diseased foliage, uploads the image on the central
repository then scientists and plant pathologists study data and analyze it. Crop disease is then
identified by experts. Feedback and remedies are shared with farmer via phone messages or
social media.

Another technology used in plant pathology is the use of Radiofrequency Identification. This is
an electronic identification tool used together with electronic tags inserted within the plant for
inserted within the plant for inspecting plant diseases. This makes it easier for farmers to realize
the presence of diseases and isolate them from the healthy one thus avoiding the spread of
diseases. This also makes it easier for farmers to eliminate pathogens at an earlier stage which could
not be seen with naked eyes.

Again, ICT is used for epidemic forecasting. This is a more specific application of epidemiological
modeling to disease management that has a history going back considerably beyond the use of
computers. For example the use of a climatic model to identify Beaumont periods with a risk of
potato blight outbreaks that could then be contained through pre-emptive sprays.

Geographic Information system generates weather data for different altitudes and location. This
is used to calculate the disease risk for every location. This also makes it easier for the farmer in
this location to know the probable disease which might occur due to certain weather condition.
Farmers are now able to plan on the type and time the disease is likely to occur thus putting in
place the possible control measures in place.

Ground-based radar estimation of rainfall is another technology used as an input for the disease
warning system. It estimates the part of the plant which is likely to be highly affected when rainfall
occurs. It estimates the duration in which the leaf surface of the plant will experience wetness due
to rainfall. In case the leaf wetness duration is long the plant will be likely to contract diseases
such as early blight in potatoes. Estimation by use of this technology will help farmers to know
the type of disease which is likely to occur in that particular season thus avoiding the growing of
such crops.

Presence of the internet enables farmers as well as plant pathologists to be updated throughout
each growing season. Farmers can get information from the website about occurrence of a
certain pathogen in the area hence they can get prepared to avoid the losses. For example in
Kenya, farmers were getting information about the tracking of armyworm in different areas.
They could use the information to plan and avoid the losses caused by the armyworm.

In medium or bigger scale farming or in high-value production (i.e. nursery) the management of
plant protection activities is a key factor in disease control. In this complex farming systems, IT
tools may support the management of multiple inputs and outputs. For example, thermotherapy in
grapevine nursery helps to protect plants against phytoplasma vectors.
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