Robot to Measure Leaf Water Potential
The most accurate way for farmers to determine the water needs of a crop is to hand-pluck individual leaves from plants, put them in pressure chambers, and apply air pressure to see when water begins to leak from the leaf stems.
This is obviously a tedious process. But what if this could be outsourced to a robot?
That’s the question researchers are asking, including University of California, Riverside assistant professor Konstantinos Karydis.
Karydis… “We want a robot to go identify a leaf, pick a leaf, cut it, and then put it inside the customized automated pressure chamber, and make a measurement in situ about the water potential of that sample leaf. And the expectation is that eventually this would be a useful tool that can help speed up the process of sampling leaves, measuring their water potential, and making a more dynamic, more accurate map of the health of a crop as measured by leaf water potential.”
Karyids and colleagues are working out some of the technical challenges of creating this rover that would monitor the leaf potential of crops. Ultimately, they hope to produce something that could take and analyze these samples without any human help.