Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, Dublin City University and Teagasc are teaming up to research crop disease in Ireland. Backed with a €1m investment from the Department of Agriculture, a number of research institutions are looking to get to the bottom of crop disease. Ireland’s two most important crops are barley and potato, and disease poses a significant challenge to these and many other strands of agriculture. With that in mind, SCOPE, a research project addressing the issue, brings researchers from several institutions together to investigate the problem and develop an antibody-based sensor.
“A vital step in addressing barley and potato crop disease is the implementation of adequate surveillance strategies so that rapid, in-field diagnosis can be made,” said Dr Alan O’Riordan, research fellow at Tyndall National Institute. SCOPE will develop prototype nanosensors by combining all parties’ expertise in crop pathology, immunochemistry and nanotechnology.
“The diagnostic system will deliver in-field results in minutes while current lab tests can take up to one week,” said O’Riordan. “Consequently, this will ensure that decisions to spray are made on the presence or absence of any disease, in contrast to current systems based on stages of crop development.”
EU legislation limiting the availability of pesticides in the medium to long term has created the need for this €1m project. Irish company MagGrow developed a device last year that reduces unwanted and potentially dangerous drift from crop spraying, winning an international prize in the process. The company attaches of a series of magnetic inserts onto a sprayer and an electromagnetic charge is infused into the liquid spray, resulting in targeted attraction.
(Source: Dublin City University press release)