The Detection of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) Infestation Using Remotely Sensed Imagery

Heath, William Loveland (2004). The Detection of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) Infestation Using Remotely Sensed Imagery. PhD thesis The Open University.



Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) Globodera pallida Stone and G. rostochiensis (Wollenweber) are economically-important pests which cause significant losses to potato production world-wide. Population control is a major objective of a sustainable management strategy as nematodes are persistent and reproductive rates can be high. Current methods of determining PCN population densities are both expensive and time consuming: an advance on current sampling methods would facilitate the application of precision farming methods to PCN management.

The potential for using light reflected from the potato canopy as an assay to detect PCN infestation is investigated. Spectral reflectance was measured from the canopy of commercial potato crops, individual plants and single leaves with a field spectrometer, airborne remote sensing and from SPOT and Ikonos satellite images. Comparisons between the reflectance from healthy and infected plants revealed a significant reduction in green (c. 550nm) reflectance from infested plants, and this was consistent across seasons, cultivars and imaging methods. The strongest results were seen early in the crop cycle, although full canopy development is desirable in airborne and satellite image analysis.

Yield-limiting pathogens are frequently reported as increasing visible reflectance by reducing chlorophyll concentration in the leaves of afflicted plants. The spectral response to PCN infestation is distinct from that from common plant stress factors and a PCN- specifrc detector system is proposed.

A viable commercial PCN assay would need to be timely, reliable and cost-effective. Whilst aircraft and satellite platforms offer the rapid acquisition of data from large areas, these imaging methods are heavily dependent on weather conditions. Results from data collected using a hand-held chlorophyll meter in this investigation indicate that a closed, or semi-closed imaging system (enclosing or covering the plant canopy) would be suited to the detection of PCN under field conditions and less susceptible to inclement weather.

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