Doctor X Nabat is the name of an application for the early detection of diseases and pests in horticultural crops, developed by members of the Plant Phenomics research group, belonging to the UB and Agrotecnio (CERCA center affiliated to the University of Lleida), in collaboration with the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
This tool, intended for farmers and agricultural experts, is available for devices with Android systems and computers. The application uses an ODK Collect form and, thanks to a photograph uploaded by the user, is able to scan how badly the plant is affected and provides an effective response with the treatment it needs. Doctor X Nabat has been tested on tomato, pepper and cucumber crops in Egypt, Tunis and the United Arab Emirates, and is being developed for use on other crops in Mediterranean areas.
Artificial intelligence to improve crop performance
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), annual crop losses due to biotic stress, such as diseases and pests, range between 20 and 40%. In addition, abiotic stresses can cause crop damage, such as droughts, salinity or nutritional deficiencies. This damage undermines the rural way of life, the national economy and food security.
This is why Doctor X Nabat, the result of a joint 2-year research project, has endeavored to provide an early response in order to prevent crop loss and reduce the use of intensive phytosanitary applications. “Artificial intelligence offers many possibilities in agriculture, and one of them is the creation of applications like this, which we offer to farmers in order to help them cope with losses,” notes the researcher. head of the plant phenomics research group. , Josep Lluís Araus, professor at the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the Faculty of Biology at UB.
The project uses deep learning technology to increase the speed and efficiency of the mechanisms that build the application. According to one of the project’s pilots, Plant Phenomics fellow Shawn Carlisle Kefauver, “deep learning allows us to speed up the operation of the application so that the farmer receives a quick response after uploading the image of the plant. disease, it takes ten seconds.” Doctor X Nabat’s algorithm – and its website format, DoctorXUB.com – was developed with more than 25,000 photographs of different diseases, abiotic stresses and nutritional deficiencies that were uploaded by project research staff and collaborators.
When using Doctor X Nabat, the farmer takes a photo of an affected plant among the crops. Then the application makes an accurate diagnosis indicating a percentage of probability that shows the disease or pest he is suffering from and how it can be treated. The phytosanitary treatment proposed as a solution is one of those accepted by European standards.
Doctor X Nabat is available in English and a new version in development will include French and Arabic. The latest version, now in beta, will provide a solution to eliminate pests with ecological fertilizers. To share information on the application between the public and developing countries in the Mediterranean region, during the year 2022, the research teams of UB, Agrotecnio and ICBA will organize activities training for farmers on this application.