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Development of an autonomous spores collector and reader for plant disease management


Brazil is the second largest soybean producer worldwide, with 35 million hectares, and the largest coffee grower, planting 2 million hectares. Several pathogens threaten soybean and coffee plants, of which the principals are airborne, known as rusts, demanding intense fungicide use for their control. The fungicide usage should be based on the epidemiological triangle vertexes: cultivar' susceptibility, pathogen presence, and weather favorability. The 'Consórcio Antiferrugem' provides a way to know about the presence of soybean rust in a region, in which disease occurrences are inputted with spatial and temporal data for knowledge diffusion about the inoculum condition in the country. Despite this monitoring, insufficient control and over-spraying are registered frequently, moreover the fungicides' efficiency is decreasing over the years. Due to these problems, a viable way to adjust fungicide application timing can be done using spore collectors. With this tool, the number of sprays can be reduced, increasing the efficiency of the disease control. Although the conception and description of spore collectors used in research dates back to the 1950's, they are rarely used, unpractical, present low autonomy, are limited to spores collection, requiring specialized personal for the collection and replacement of plates, followed by their individual analysis in microscopes, which results in high costs and a slow overall process. New and modern imported equipment has the ability to go further than simply collecting spores, including DNA identification, however for only one specie, and at high costs. Aiming to solve those problems, to rationalize and optimize diseases chemical control, mainly for soybean and coffee rusts, an autonomous spores collector and reader is proposed. As competitors' differential, the dispositive to be developed must have characteristics to provide long periods without replacement of spores adhesive material, long life batteries (at least 6 months), autonomy to work, without external power supply (only sunlight), wireless, with high magnification lens (100 to 400x), in loco images analysis and spores counting, and automatic sent to central, according to the viabilities to be studied in this project. In this 'Phase 1', the materials and methodologies for the autonomous spores collector and reader manufacturing will be evaluated and tested, to check its field autonomous working, and the implementation of machine learning imagery process. The SmartAgri is a company aiming towards the development of agriculture technologic solutions, incubated at ESALQTec, in 'Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture' - São Paulo University, Piracicaba, SP. The company aims to make an innovator product, with a broad consumer market, inserting technology, automation and autonomy in the spores collection and analysis, resulting in a rational diseases management to its consumers. The company plans to commercialize the product to cooperatives, consultants, research foundations, medium and large growers, and fungicide dealers, which have interest in rationalize fungicides use, increasing its efficiency. Dividends are expected from this equipment, through the sales and renting of these, through services for spores quantification, and relating these to diseases forecasts systems. In this context, SmartAgri company intends to position itself in the market of agriculture solutions, and submits the present project to obtain resources from PIPE program, Phase 1 from FAPESP. (AU)