Feb 2015 | WSU News, by Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences
PULLMAN, Wash. – Wheat breeders at Washington State University are sizing up experimental crops from a new perspective: cameras that see far better than the human eye.
Scientists deploy tractor- and cart-mounted multi-spectral cameras to see how new wheat varieties handle challenges like drought, heat and disease. Results will help breeders and growers choose the best varieties.
“For thousands of years, people have been looking at plants in a field and saying, ‘that one grows well,’” said WSU spring wheat breeder Mike Pumphrey. But there’s a lot our eyes can’t see that a new generation of cameras can.
A slight breeze comes from the north, but it’s not enough to stir the sun-faded windsock above the tarmac near Mann Lake in Lewiston, Idaho. The sudden and unexpected gusts of wind, however, do. It’s a brisk 48 degrees, but of more concern is the smeared cloud taking up the southwestern horizon, out of place among its more defined, cumulus neighbors mottling the blue canvas above.
“We have about ten minutes,” says Chris Chaney, who earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering from WSU this year. “We’re going to have to time this right. This is probably one of the most dangerous flights we’ve done.”
WSU News | Manoj Karkee and his team of WSU scientists recently won a $548,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to develop tree fruit harvesting technology where robots and humans work side by side. More…