Understanding Crop Diseases: A Comprehensive Overview

Plants, like all living organisms, can get sick. Crop diseases occur when a plant’s body’s normal functioning is disrupted, negatively impacting its ability to perform vital processes. The interruption of regular processes interferes with the normal development of the plant.

Farmers worldwide strive to attain high yields and healthy crops by combatting various plant diseases. Specific diseases can affect the quality and potential of each crop.

On average, pests such as insects, weeds, nematodes, and diseases cause crop losses of 20-40% each year. Specifically, crop diseases can lead to a yield loss of 42% for the most significant food crops. In severe situations, crop diseases can wipe out entire fields.

Farmers should acquire knowledge about crop diseases to handle them effectively. Fortunately today there are a lot of tools and methods of monitoring crop diseases and their identification

Types and Reasons of Plant Diseases

Crop disease can be caused by biotic (infectious) and abiotic (non-infectious) agents. Certain pathogens and environmental factors can also contribute to the occurrence and spread of these diseases from one season to another. Each crop variety may have different characteristics that affect its susceptibility to infection.

Abiotic agents, such as extreme temperatures, wind, drought, water stress, high humidity, and soil compaction, can cause harm. Additionally, a lack or excess of nutrients and improper water management can lead to disease. Chemical damage may also occur due to pesticides or salts. 

Biotic agents, such as infectious diseases, are caused by pathogens that spread from one host to another, resulting in disease transmission.

One of the major issues in agriculture is caused by pathogenic fungi. Research shows that this disease can destroy up to one-third of all food crops annually, leading to humanitarian and economic concerns. These infections primarily target plants through wounds, water pores, and stomata, similar to bacterial crop diseases. Moreover, fungal spores can be carried by wind gusts.

Plants are vulnerable to viruses, small infectious agents that can cause significant damage. If a plant becomes infected, saving it can be difficult. The virus can spread through contact between healthy and diseased plants and through seeds, pollen, and insects. Soil is also a common way for viruses to spread.

Bacterial crop diseases, usually caused by bacteria, are among the most common infections in agriculture. In this regard, preventing and controlling this type of disease is difficult.

Pathogens enter culture tissue through damage caused by agricultural tools, insects, or harsh weather. Bacteria can infect plants through natural openings or glands.

Nematodes are plant-eating roundworms found in soil. They target roots, bulbs, and tubers and require specialized equipment to detect them. There are over 4100 harmful species known.

Multiple pathogens can attack plants in agriculture at once. A plant lacking nutrients or uneven soil moisture and oxygen balance is more likely to be infected by a pathogen. Additionally, a plant already affected by one disease is more prone to further invasion by other pathogens. This combination of all plant pathogens is known as the pathogenic complex. It’s crucial to know typical growth patterns, varietal traits, and the natural variations of plants within a species to take practical crop diseases and pest control measures.

Prevention Advices of Crop Diseases

To prevent crop diseases, growers can take early action to protect plants from drought and excessive heat. Monitoring fields and responding to changes accordingly can also help plants fight infection. Proper storage after harvest is crucial, as diseases can attack crops like mould or fungus. 

Do soil microorganisms protect against crop disease? Crop rotation is a reliable method of disease prevention that avoids soil depletion and the recurrence of the same diseases year after year. It also contributes to preserving and developing microorganisms in the soil, which benefits its health.

The agricultural industry has developed some disease-resistant crops. Disease-resistant seeds are better prepared to fight infection. Seeds from crops that have survived the condition may also be better able to handle the disease than others.

To prevent the spread of crop diseases, farmers should consider alternatives to relying solely on rainwater. One effective solution is to invest in systems that can store water and automatically water their plants. Additionally, farmers should educate themselves on the signs of crop diseases and symptoms in their plants and monitor for any changes. The chances of saving the remaining crops increase after quickly removing diseased plants.

The Role of EOSDA Crop Monitoring in Crop Protection

The EOSDA Crop Monitoring is a satellite-based platform for precision agriculture. The tool is created by EOS Data Analytics, a global provider of satellite imagery analytics. It is a comprehensive solution for field monitoring that gives farmers access to different data types, such as weather conditions,  field activities,  soil moisture, and more. All this information is available on one platform and contributes to crop disease control.

By closely monitoring the field, farmers can detect potential problems affecting the plants, such as temperature fluctuations, lack of water, disease, pests, or weeds. Identifying these issues early on enables farmers to make quick and effective decisions, which can help to save time, reduce expenses, and increase crop yields.

EOSDA Crop Monitoring uses satellite imagery to track field productivity and identify areas of low productivity. By analysing data from agricultural equipment, farmers can get more accurate yield analysis and detect biotic pathogens early on to take action.

With the EOSDA Crop Monitoring platform, users can calculate different vegetation indices, including NDVI, to track vegetation health. It also can help to identify infested areas remotely. With the scouting feature, farmers can easily detect the presence of pathogens or diseases in their crops by setting scouting tasks using satellite data. EOSDA Crop Monitoring helps scouts quickly identify and describe crop damage to agronomists and farmers.

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