Automated detection, and highly targeted and effective treatment and prevention, of bacterial blight infection in major World Food Crops

Lead Participant: Folium Food Science Limited

Abstract

"Food security concerns resulting from incurable bacterial blight is one of the most critical environmental and social issues faced globally. 10% of global crop production is lost to disease costing $220 billion annually. The diversity of crop diseases continues to expand, and new strains are constantly evolving. A study has suggested the loss of major crops to bacterial blight amount to enough to feed nearly 9% of the global population, with these figures set to increase further with the prevalence of climate change and continued heavy metal use on agricultural soil.

Despite the urgency and scale of the problem, technological advancements to identify, treat and prevent bacterial blight infection in crops is ineffective, with detection largely reliant on manual processes, therefore timely, unproductive with state-of-the-art imaging technologies not widely adopted due to their cost-ineffectiveness and complicated output. Additionally, there are no current chemical or biological treatments that can cure bacterial infection, they simply slow the spread of the disease. Full plant removal is essential to halt the bacterial spread but is very costly.

This collaboration of Folium, Rinicom and the John Innes Centre seeks to overcome limitations of current solutions to deliver the first complete solution to both detect and treat Xanthomonas bacterial blight by developing a dual-purpose drone and novel Guided Biotic treatment to be used as a joint solution. This drone can attach interchangeable payloads with a sensor system and delivery system specifically designed during this project work. This approach will offer:

Advanced AI driven image analysis to identify Xanthomonas infection

Precise location GPS of infection

Associated infected area coordinates

Specific spot spray of Guided Biotics (employing delivery system)

Treatment/protection of diseased plant only by selected removal of Xanthomonas infections

Modulation of signalling pathways to abolish bacterial pathogenicity

Enhanced product lifetime due to reduced selective pressure to develop resistance

Reduced crop waste

Increased crop production system efficiency

Improved soil and air quality.

With support through Innovate UK, a 24-month programme of research is required to deliver an optimised prototype demonstrated in a crop production system. If successful, this solution has the potential to truly revolutionise the future of food security with global exploitation potential (capable of preventing 1.6 million tonnes of waste- cumulative by YR5). The project will deliver significant export led growth for Folium and Rinicom, a substantial ROI, increased employment and further opportunity for R&D investment."

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Folium Food Science Limited, Kingston £823,938 £ 576,757
 

Participant

Rinicom Limited £380,764 £ 266,535
University of East Anglia, United Kingdom £66,693 £ 66,693

Publications

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