Early pathogen detection under different water status and the assessment of spray application in vineyards through the use of thermal imagery

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Remote detection using thermal imagery has potential for use in the pre-symptomatic diagnosis of abiotic stress or of early disease detection. The latter is an issue of great importance since late detection of fungus attacks or poor spray coverage are major factors contributing to weak disease control affecting fruit quality or reducing yield in grapes. In greenhouse experiments the effects on spatial and temporal variability of leaf temperature of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L. cv. Riesling) leaves inoculated with a fungal pathogen (Plasmopara viticola (Berk. & Curt. Ex de Bary) were studied in either well-irrigated or non-irrigated potted plants. Due to the high sensitivity of leaf temperature to the amount of water transpired, infra-red thermography can be used to monitor irregularities in temperature at an early stage of pathogen development. Evidence for characteristic thermal responses in grapevines was apparent well before visible symptoms appeared. Contrasting thermal effects due to the pathogen attack were found between measurements on well-irrigated and water-stressed plants. Furthermore, from a technical point of view, thermal imagery has the potential to assess the evenness of spray coverage within a canopy, hence optimizing pesticide application efficiency.

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