Introduction to Phytomonitoring
monitoring of growing plants, aimed at improvement of the controllable
crop factors, is becoming a world standard in precision agriculture,
which will change the way Growers will operate in coming decades.
Phytomonitoring methodology incorporates plant-sensing techniques,
sampling rules, measurement protocols, data interpretation and
crop-specific application techniques.
The total concept is embedded in modern electronics, data
acquisition and communication systems, software and Internet enabled
is tailored to the specific world of Growers, in the sense that it is:
simple to operate and maintain, can be installed using simple building
blocks, can be configured for each Grower demands and is moderately
Phytomonitoring systems are field proven. They have been met with
immense enthusiasm by agronomists and farmers in Israel and have been
adapted and currently are supported by the Ministry of Agriculture in
the country. Records of increased productivity and operational savings
have clearly be recorded and translated into hard monetary terms.
The main sections of this document covers the issues of:
Place and role of the Phytomonitoring in modern horticulture
Application (“how it works for grower’s benefit”)
Place and Role of the Phytomonitoring in
Modern agriculture requires customized soil and crop management to
enhance the specific conditions within an agricultural field. To meet
this demand, a new term, PRECISION AGRICULTURE, is used to define
technologies that fully support tailored agricultural practices aimed at higher efficiency and lower impact to the environment. By
right, Phytomonitoring technology belongs to the PRECISION
Phytomonitoring is a specialized
real-time information system for horticulture. The purpose of its
application is to derive new crop-related information for supporting
decision-making processes for climate (where applicable) and irrigation
control (Figure 1).
Figure 1. SEQ Figure \* ARABIC
A grower applies treatments and provides irrigation,
fertigation and other manageable environmental regimes. Usually, it is
based on direct observations (made also with the use of instruments) and
available laboratory tests. The Phytomonitor has become an
extraordinarily responsive and informative real-time feedback channel
between a grower and cultivated crops, supplementing and redoubling
phytomonitoring is a management information system for crop growing.
There are three main functions of the phytomonitoring information
The system can
generate a customized set of measured values and their derivatives,
used by a grower in daily control practice.
Exception reporting (warning)
The system enables the early detection of unexpected disorders in
plants. This function is based on a variety of phytomonitoring
indicators of plant physiological disorder.
It enables the
fine tuning of climate and irrigation regimes by trial-end-error
approach. Extremely high sensitivity and short response time of the
phytomonitoring channels eliminate the risk of crop damage. A grower
can make a little change in a control regime and then he may get a
detectable response of plants within 1-2 days. It gives him the high
chances to keep only a single variable factor during a trial and
also allows to prevent considerable impact in crop state.
Phytomonitoring dynamic indicators of plant improvement or
deterioration are necessary attributes of such decision-support
Due to the dynamic and relative character of the phytomonitoring
observations, they have high representativeness at limited number of
samples. Practically, only a few sample plants are necessary for
effective monitoring of large plantations.
How It Works
technique is crucial for performing the following practical tasks:
detect plant physiological disorders at early stages of their
development. Probable causes are the following: improper climate
control (if available), irrigation or fertigation regimes, diseases,
locate the source and to identify possible causes of crop
disclose the crop physiological response to any environmental
changes in short time. It may help a Grower to examine his attempts
at improving crop performance or to eliminate problematic crop
factors. It also enables a Grower to tune climate, irrigation and
fertigation regimes and treatments in a trial-and-error approach
(see Figure 6).
present a Grower both conventional and original integrated and
accumulated long-term characteristics of the crop, such as Thermal
time (degree/days), Daily integral of solar radiation, Reference
evapotranspiration, Leaf surface wetness duration, as well as
duration and magnitude of measurable stress conditions (air drought,
heat, chilling, soil water stress, etc.)
This information is of great importance for
estimating and planning the control policy.
2. The Phytomonitoring trial-and-error approach for tuning control
regimes. The collected data are converted into plant status indications. A
Grower analyses the indications and makes an assumption about subsequent
modification of control regime. Further testing of the new regime brings
to a new indication of plant status. In many cases, a grower is able to
interpret comparison of both indications in terms of positive or negative
response to a new regime. Phytomonitoring technique is now rapidly being
recognized as a new standard precision farming tool for tuning cultivation
regimes in greenhouses and open field crops.
Thus, using phytomonitoring technique, a grower becomes able to
examine crop conditions in trial-and-error regime and, consequently, to
improve crop performance and production during the very first seasons.
The phytomonitoring technique may help to avoid rough technological
mistakes easily. Also it allows disclosing hardly detectable,
accumulated physiological disorders. And in the long run, the
phytomonitor enables permanent tuning of climate and irrigation control
for better crops and lower costs. It is also a perfect tool for
comparative examination of different treatments and materials.