Automating Leaf Water Potential Testing
Measuring leaf water potential of agricultural crops can be a tedious process. University of California, Riverside assistant professor Konstantinos Karydis is researching a way to automate this process with a robotic sampling rover.
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.”
Karydis is hoping to have the leaf extraction technology developed in the next couple of months and tested it in a controlled environment in the lab.
Karydis… “Once we put the 'checkmark' on this, then we have equipment that we can take that initial design, put it on top of a mobile robot, which we already have available, and then start doing things which are a little bit in more uncontrolled setting. So outdoor, but in an experimental field that's available at UCR. And then eventually we'd like to try to scale this out from citrus, which is our first attempt, to avocados, and eventually to grapes and almonds.”
The rover would seek to replace trained employees who currently have to walk the orchards or vineyards sampling and analyzing individual leaves. This provides a labor savings and a way for growers to have more consistent data on the water needs of their crops.