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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The goal of this study is to develop affordable, portable, and customized sensor systems detecting pest presence and volatile organic compounds.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) that indicate the presence of insect pest infestations, insect plant damage, and pesticide applications will be identified from available literature and through gas chromatography (GC) analysis performed in cooperation with scientists within our Unit. An instrument will be developed for collecting, monitoring, and recording gas emissions from the presence of quantity of these organic compounds. The first step is to develop a method to collect the gas emissions in a confined space. Next, a means of recording the gas measurement data automatically will be developed. Instrument development involves assembly of the sensor chamber and connections between the chamber and data collection system. Gas sensors will be mounted in the ceiling of the chamber and linked to a circuit board placed on top of the chamber, which will be connected to the power source. A data acquisition module will be used to convert the output from the gas sensors to digital output for recording and analysis. The data will be processed using principal component analysis, discriminate analysis, and other analyses based on statistical pattern recognition and artificial neural networks. The system hardware, software, and platform will be tested using the compounds of interest at differing levels of concentration to ensure proper system functionality. The working system will then be tested under laboratory and field conditions for its ability to detect varying concentrations of VOC from infested plants and pesticide applications.

3. Progress Report:
The goal of this project is to develop electronic nose (e-nose) technology for practical application in detecting/quantifying volatile chemicals emitted by pest or beneficial arthropods associated with agricultural crops, or volatiles associated with the crops themselves or with agrochemicals used in crop protection. In FY 2013, the e-nose was used to detect cotton boll rot. Boll rot is a serious disease of cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., caused by an opportunistic bacterium. Project work examined if the e-nose could accurately discriminate between infected and non-infected plants at one and two weeks post-infection; the e-nose was “trained” to recognize volatiles emitted from each of the crop conditions. Over the life of this project, important new information was gained on the use of e-nose technology to detect different volatile chemicals associated with varying plant status (pest, disease, environmental, etc.). While e-nose technology does not yet offer the reliability and practicality required for real-world application, further advancements may well achieve the desired parameters. Although this project expired in FY 2013, parent project scientists and the collaborator will maintain joint focus in this area to achieve further advancements.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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