Breaking down barriers between remote sensing and plant pathology


A critical component for enhancing productivity and quality of food and fiber is the ability to quickly detect and monitor plant diseases in order to prevent or minimize losses to agricultural and forest products (Mahlein 2016). The earlier (prior to or at first symptoms) the diseases can be detected, the lower the risk of control failure or their spread to disease-free areas (Zarco-Tejada et al. 2018). Novel farming methods and tools have been proposed as a way to more precisely (temporally and spatially) deploy agrochemicals at the right dosage to the right target, thus helping to reduce the negative impacts on the environment, but to also reduce the risk of inadvertently developing chemical-resistant strains in the pathogen population due to chemical overuse (Mahlein et al. 2018). Currently, site-specific and advanced farming techniques are increasingly available, and their implementation is necessary to reduce agricultural expansion into native ecosystems and ensure food safety and supply (Foley et al. 2011; Vogel 2017). In the context of pest and diseases, optimizing agricultural practices through the integrated use of remote sensing and plant pathology seems to be a worthwhile enterprise (Gebbers and Adamchuk 2010). Remote sensing (i.e. retrieving information from objects without direct contact) has been a promising discipline since the 1980s and was envisioned to support efforts in agronomic management and in plant pathology, therefore advancing the remote detection of abiotic and biotic stress. Thirty years ago, Jackson (1986) stated that: “continued research at all levels, ground, aircraft, and satellite (goal 1), should build the foundation for a future global stress-detection system (goal 2) that would be readily available to all (goal 3)”. We split Jackson’s vision into three smaller goals in order to explore whether we have achieved the aims he sought three decades ago. We highlight challenges and potential solutions in the context of application of remote sensing in plant pathology.




R. H. J. Heim, A. J. Carnegie, and P. J. Zarco-Tejada, "Breaking down barriers between remote sensing and plant pathology," in Tropical Plant Pathology, vol. 44, pp. 398–400, July 2019.
Title = {Breaking down barriers between remote sensing and plant pathology},
Author = {R. H. J. Heim and A. J. Carnegie and P. J. Zarco-Tejada},
Booktitle = {Tropical Plant Pathology},
Year = {2019},
Month = {July},
Volume = {44},
doi = {},