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The link between plant scientists and farmers

Modern agriculture is faced with a plethora of challenges ranging from weather extremes such as floods, drought and heat waves due to climate change to depletion of arable land due to urbanization and soil erosion. Additionally, pests and diseases exacerbate crop loss, adding to the complexity faced by farmers worldwide. Optimizing crop productivity while minimizing resource inputs, including water and fertilizers, requires the implementation of precision farming techniques. Therefore, various technologies are being developed by plant scientists that integrate scientific innovation and sustainable practices.

(a) Plant breeding: This process of selecting plants with positive genetic traits can produce desirable effects. It enables the creation of new plant varieties with improved traits. This is achieved through controlled mating of selected individuals and then selecting certain individuals among the progeny. Breeding is crucial for the development of stress-resistant, high-yielding crops and for improving quality factors that can have a positive impact on people's lives worldwide.

(b) Irrigation: Various irrigation methods have been developed to ensure consistent water availability for crops while reducing water waste. Efficient use of water is crucial to maintain crop productivity particularly in areas with insufficient rainfall. Moreover, the effect of drought and heat stress on crops can be mitigated by effective irrigation techniques. Drip irrigation and subsurface drip irrigation are used for precise and targeted water application to plant roots. For large-scale agricultural applications, sprinklers are employed to simulate rainfall. Interestingly, the rate, pattern, location, and timing of water application can be modulated in variable-rate irrigation systems based on soil variables such as topography, moisture levels, etc. This helps to reduce overwatering thus conserving water and preventing nutrient run-off. It also improves crop yield and reduces weeds and diseases associated with overwatering.

(c) Drones and smartphone apps: Plant scientists have been working to apply cutting-edge technology to be able to collect data for more efficient agricultural solutions. Some of these include smartphone apps to increase disease forecasting and diagnostics, drone technology with artificial intelligence-based information tools for irrigation, spray application/ plant health and general on-farm monitoring of activities or trends.


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