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"Towards Precision Agriculture: Improved Monitoring of Plant Physiology"

Dr. Lee Tarpley
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center, Beaumont
Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences


Crop production manipulates plant development, growth and physiology to suit our purposes. To accomplish such manipulations, we seek to understand the plant's response to environment, and thus also to measure key details of the plants and environment, then use this information to timely prescribe variety selection and management practices for profitable and sustainable crop production for a specific condition.

Two examples are provided in which our ability to provide tools to the producer (farmer) is enhanced by improved capabilities in measuring certain plant physiology characteristics. Leaf water potential is an indicator of plant water status, and is desirable to know to help guide irrigation. Studies to establish an estimator of leaf water potential using foliage short wave infrared reflectance spectra will be described. Advancement of all possible ratios among waveband reflectances as potential predictors allowed combinations of spectral regions contributing to precision and/or accuracy to be determined. The statuses of estimating levels of the macronutrients - C, N, P, K, using foliage reflectance will be mentioned.

Another example concerns prediction and manipulation of tillering (branching) in crops such as rice or wheat. Tillers impact sunlight capture, and also weed suppression, by providing ground coverage. Meanwhile, an optimal tiller number promotes a combination of good yield and grain quality. Specifically, our ability to integrate and use knowledge of environmental and developmental influences on tillering is limited by the complexity of obtaining metabolic profiles of tiller buds. Towards simplification, a subset of metabolites representing the metabolome of rice tiller bud development was established. These biomarker metabolites are amenable to assay by enzymatic, and possibly mobile spectroscopic, methods.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
IQSE 578, 12:30 Noon
Mitchell Physics Building

Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering
Texas A&M University

(Pizza, salad, and soda to be served at 12:00 noon)

Host: Marlan Scully