PISA - Platform applying Intelligent Signal Analysis to gain insights to plant electrophysiology

The plants, as living organisms, possess a defense mechanism that helps them react to the alterations of the environmental conditions. The intrinsic electrical signaling network is the common mean for transmitting information related to such alterations. In fact, the adaptation of a plant to a perturbation triggers changes in its underlying physiological process which are expressed as electrical signal variations. Hence, the plant electrophysiological signal could reveal the health status of a plant.

The miniaturization of electronics and integrated signal processing coupled with huge data storage and fast data transmission are enabling the creation of a wide range of innovative sensors valuable for precision agriculture. However, current agricultural devices are mostly focused on environmental monitoring without including a direct survey of a plant physiology.

The aim of this project is to design a multi-channel electrophysiological sensor that is able to acquire the electrical signal from plants growing in typical production condition, without a Faraday cage, and then, by applying advanced data analysis techniques to assess the potential of the information portrayed by this signal for identifying the status of a plant.

To assure continuous and stable recordings in different environments, the developments of this project will address the challenges of both designing a high-impendence sensor and achieving a good signal-to-noise ratio. On the other hand, as it is a relatively new field of research, to characterize the complex plant electrical response to different stimuli, a wide range of signal features will be explored, which would further lead to new insights to plant behavior, signaling and physiology.

In the framework of this project, the HEIG-VD team will employ its expertise in signal processing and intelligent data analysis to build classification models that would be able to distinguish the stressed state of the plant caused by drought, deficit of nutrients or insect infestation.

Project funded by Innosuisse - 27661.1 PFLS-LS.