Since 2014, IALR scientists have used two SMART tables for precision agriculture research. The SMART tables, which are precision imaging platforms to record and track plant growth, provide insight into plant population responses to environmental stimuli without harm to the plant and under controlled conditions. The tables use precision robotics and technology to record and analyze plant growth and movement in a variety of conditions for up to 15,000 plants at a time. The tables are thought to be the only plant imaging devices like them in the U.S. The SMART tables are essential in conducting research in a lab setting.

IALR’s SMART table project continues to garner interest from industry and academia. A new mountable camera head for testing soil characteristics was recently installed on the innovative table. Through a university collaboration, a group of five senior Virginia Tech mechanical engineers recently completed the camera head as their senior design project. Additionally, four STEM interns and an Engineering Fellow worked to move the tables to a new lab, designed new lighting to create a more functional and automated system, re-coded the in-house control system to run better, and integrated the new robotic head.

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During this video, a total of 86 plants were monitored for symptoms of a disease caused Pythium. Each image is captured, stored in a folder, and later analyzed using computer vision software. By capturing images of each plant every 20 minutes, each experiment generates hundreds of thousands of data points. In this case, IALR and VT scientists are looking for early indicators of plant stress and disease.

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