New smart system to allow stressed plants to send text message

A Queensland researcher developing a way for stressed plants to be able to send a text when they need attention has been awarded Advance Queensland Research Fellowship funding.

The $300,000 funding will enable Dr Stephen Xu to create a simple but smart system that connects a range of sensors and information sources to test soil moisture, air temperature, plant water consumption and crop imaging.

Dr Xu is developing a prototype system using Perfection Fresh Australia’s protected cropping production facilities in the region.

Dr Xu said a ‘lot of effort’ has already gone into integrating low-cost sensors into the prototype system – with testing in a Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries greenhouse in the Burdekin using recycled mobile phones for crop monitoring.

“I believe an integration of conventional knowledge and cutting-edge information technologies - like sensors, mobile network, the Internet of Things, cloud information platforms, and big data processing - will be the future of agriculture,” he said.

“Deployment of state-of-art information technologies will stimulate the agriculture sector to enter an ‘information intensive’ era in the next a few decades.”

Dr Xu said he aimed to deliver a deployable system to Perfection Fresh Australia in 18 months.

“The model has application for many other crops and agricultural situations,” Dr Xu said.

“After this project has been completed, I will be considering the direction of future projects, such as building a generic system that can be broadly adopted in other crops and regions”.

The Advance Queensland Research Fellowship initiative to-date will support over 900 jobs over the duration of the fellowship projects and has leveraged more than $27 million in investment from universities and industry partners.

For more information about the Advance Queensland Research Fellowships visit the Advance Queensland website.

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