Intelligent Cherry Pathogen Monitoring and Testing

Thanks to funding from the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program and the cooperation of several fruit growers in Okanagan Valley, Flex Alert started a long term project in monitoring and tracking the quality of sweet cherries and grapes associated with pathogens during pre-harvest and post-harvest. Other fruits will be added as capacity becomes available.

cherries-bing-cherries 279x249Fruit quality is a critical issue for over 500 growers in the Okanagan, who are usually located on small acreages with small crops and so are very sensitive to the cost of pathogen mitigation efforts. New web-based initiatives – including extensive use of smart phones, mapping, and low cost wireless technologies create a big opportunity for the large scale use of digital information in agriculture “from farm to table”. Several elements of the project include monitoring micro-climate conditions, soil moisture, water quality and management, monitoring of powdery mildew and botrytis, and using predictive software. Results of the project will potentially reduce the costs of food production, transportation as well as labour, and improve the quality of products.



Monitoring Cherry Rot and its Predictive Pre-harvest Analysis

The project goal is to install very low cost-wireless infrastructure in BC cherry growers orchards’ in the Okanagan Valley. This allows their owners to monitor the levels of pathogens and to predict their evolution during the growing season up to their presence in ripe cherries at harvest.

Life Cycle of Brown Rot in Cherries. Courtesy Vickie Brewster

Life Cycle of Brown Rot in Cherries. Courtesy Vicky Brewster

The assessment of native pathogens strains such as brown rot, powdery mildew and botrytis at various points of their life cycle has been done through DNA sequencing at the University of British Columbia.

This work will continue for several years to best correlate the proprietary predictive models with the presence of pathogens in cherry fruits.





Read about us:

Wireless-based biosensor network to detect mycotoxins in maize harvesting, in Tanzania

The goal of this R&D program was to develop the concept of easily deployable, low cost solar powered network that will allow small farmers in Tanzania to reduce the contamination and spread of mycotoxin producing molds by monitoring conditions during harvesting, storage and transportation of maize. As water quality and its management there are very challenging, part of the demonstration included its monitoring and open source GIS tracking of various trends.
Grand Challenges Canada
The participants of this pilot project were Grand Challenges Canada, NeoVentures Biotechnology and The Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology.

Spreading The Word

Jointly with SAWBO Animations Without the Borders we are developing a series of short cellphone movies in English and Swahili to educate farmers and their children on a number of issues related to food safety and prevention of crop losses in transportation and storage, drinking water quality and management.
By now, SAWBO published several videos explaining best practices helping minimize Post Harvest losses. These videos are available in multiple languages, like English, French, Amharic (Ethiopia), Bengali (India), Chinese, Lingala (DR Congo), Portuguese (Brazil), Bahasa (Indonesia),
Urdu (Pakistan), Yoruba (Nigeria).

  • The above video is also available in other languages.

Check SAWBO Video Library in the near future for new releases.

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