By Leonardo Gottems, Reporter for AgroPages
Brazilian startup Adroit Robotics developed the first technology, named LeafSense, in the world to monitor 100% of citrus groves using smart sensors. The tool evaluates millions of fruits individually, analyzes the conditions of trees, estimates the level of harvest, and detects pests and diseases, especially greening, the most dangerous crop disease in the tropical country.
“Our sensors capture high-resolution images with a frontal view of trees, as well as analyze fruits and trees individually and deliver accurate analysis of productivity and the health of orchards. They also identify the maturation stage, quantity and size of fruits, density of trees, and volume of crowns and fruits on the ground. In addition to crop estimates, pest detection and tree inventory are fully automated. It is like an MRI for orchards,” explained Angelo Gurzoni Jr., a founding partner of Adroit Robotics.
The cultivation of citrus fruits is a key agribusiness market in Brazil. The country is the world's largest orange producer, accounting for no less than 80% of world juice exports. Although it is a fundamental crop, the sector still lacks exclusive technologies that help producers achieve greater productivity. Most solutions on the market, such as drone monitoring, were developed for other crops and later adapted to orchards.
Explaining the new solution further, Gurzoni Jr. stated that LeafSense is composed of sensors and artificial intelligence, which will enable fruit growers to quickly and objectively obtain detailed information on the productivity and health of their orchards, with all plants and fruits being individually and automatically analyzed.
“Pests and diseases significantly affect fruit growers, especially citrus growers in hot climates. The monitoring of pest and disease symptoms can be made much more frequently and objectively complement conventional inspections while the mapping of symptoms will enable the adoption of broad and consistent strategies,” he added.
Due to highly destructive diseases that affect orchards, many citrus trees need to be eliminated, according to the recommendation of the Brazilian government's plant defense authorities. For example, the bacterium that causes greening prevents affected young trees from producing, and adults, during production, suffer premature fruit fall and define over time.
“The management of the disease requires plants to be eradicated and, if you want to keep going, you have to replant, leading to a scenario that begins at the moment when you have a thousand plants at the start but have to replant so much that you lose control. And many people do not monitor eradication. This will directly interfere with productivity. With Adroit sensors, we are able to achieve that control. By doing this reading, it is possible to diagnose sick plants in order to do the scan,” stressed Pedro Luiz Fávero Filho, agronomist and Agricultural Manager of the Alfacitrus Group.