Soil-Ecological Estimation of Agricultural Lands
Development of Instrumentation and Technology for Soil-Ecological Estimation of Agricultural Lands
Tech Area / Field
- AGR-PPR/Plant Protection/Agriculture
- AGR-FOD/Food & Nutrition/Agriculture
- ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment
- INF-SOF/Software/Information and Communications
- INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation
3 Approved without Funding
National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus / Institute of Biophysics and Cell Engineering, Belarus, Minsk
- Closed Corporation Design Bureau "Pribor", Belarus, Minsk
- Märkisches Institut für Technologie- und Innovationsförderburg e. V., Germany, Strausberg\nMaria Curie-Sklodowska University / Institute of Biology, Poland, Lublin\nUniversity of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Plovdiv\nPotsdam University / Institut fuer Biochemie und Biologie, Germany, Potsdam\nNova Scotia Agricultural College, Canada, NS, Truro\nINNO-Concept GmbH, Germany, Strausberg
Project summaryThe aim of the project is to develop and produce modern engineering tools for controlling plant growth and to develop and demonstrate their applicability for soil and ecological characterization of agricultural lands.
Background to the project:
Modern plant cultivation faces complex challenges due to world population increase, shortage of arable lands as a result of urbanization, salinity of cultivated lands, their pollution and desertification, global climate changes, growing food plants for bio-fuel and other factors [Yanshin A.L. The climate warming and other global ecological problems at the threshold of XXI century. Ecology and Life. №1. 2001.]. Undoubtedly the growing need of mankind for food, energy and fiber must be satisfied through increases in agricultural plant productivity in real habitat. As a result of the anthropogenic activity, agricultural lands are getting contaminated with pollutants, primarily heavy metals and pesticides. Under these conditions bio-agriculture is gradually getting more important. It utilizes ecologically pure bio-preparations, based on useful microorganisms and fungi, for ‘reviving’ soils through removing dangerous pollutants and pathogens, increasing general immunity of plants and making them more tolerable against pollutants. Therefore it is extremely important to be able to estimate the degree of soil contamination and effectiveness of bio-preparations at the early stages of plant growth. The primary response of plants to any impact is variation of growth. This is one of the main indicators of their physiological condition. Consequently, devices that are capable of measuring growth response of plants to environmental changes should be extremely useful for fast estimation of soil pollution and selection of the most effective bio-preparations.
The existing methods and devices for measuring plant growth do not meet practical requirements, which is one of the main reasons of the absence of commercial equipment of this kind on the world market [Shevelucha V.S. Plant growth and its regulation. M., “Kolos”. 1992.]. Development of modern computerized equipment for non-destructive control of plant growth is an important scientific and technical task. Within the framework of this project, radically new equipment for registration of plant growth by electro-capacity method will be designed and produced and thereupon technologies for soil and ecological characterization of agricultural lands will be developed and demonstrated.
Benefits of the project:
The equipment to be developed is based on new principles. Its wide application will considerably simplify and reduce the costs associated with characterization of phyto-toxicity of soils, their quality, the effectiveness of bio-preparations in ‘reviving’ soils to increase crop productivity, improve the quality of foodstuffs and habitat and public health as well.
Development of the new generation of devices controlling plants condition, such as “Plant Vital 5030” (INNO-Concept, GmbH, Germany, Prof. E. Klose), field spectrophotometer (Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics, Ukraine, ISTC project 2416, Prof. S. Kochubei), biological instrumentation developed in the Department of Engineering of Nova Scotia Agricultural College (Canada, Prof. A. Martynenko) as well as the equipment to be produced within the scope of the project, may be the basis for international cooperation of some R&D groups.
Participants of the project:
Biological group – Institute of Biophysics and Cell Engineering (5 persons: 2 of them are doctors of biological sciences, 1 Ph.D. (chemistry), 1 Ph.D. (biology) are engaged in studies of physiology, biochemistry and biophysics of plants and chemical agents of plant protection);
Design group – Design bureau “Pribor” (5 persons, 3 of them are Ph.D. (technology) with 20 year experience in the development of military technologies).
The project belongs to the category of Applied Research; Development and Demonstration of the Technology. On its completion, the following results will be provided:
- Technical project of the device;
- A set of working design documentation (WDD), software, a pilot sample of the device;
- Technology of the soil phyto-toxicity characterization by the electro-capacity method;
- Technology of the characterization of the soil quality and efficiency of bio-preparations by the electro-capacity method.
Application of the project findings:
- Estimation of the efficiency of plant protective agents and optimization of their utilization;
- Plant selection;
- Bio-monitoring of the environment;
- Fundamental investigation of plant growth processes;
Meeting ISTC goals and objective:
The project corresponds to the goals and objectives of the ISTC:
- It will redirect the activities of military technology specialists to development of devices for plant cultivation;
- It will facilitate integration of the project participants into the world scientific community through their cooperation with foreign specialists;
- It will provide for a smooth transition of the military technology specialists participating in the project to the market economy as they will design commercial equipment, and will enable them to become a self-financing enterprise producing equipment for agriculture and ecology;
- It will promote applied investigations for peaceful purposes, namely development of technologies for agriculture and ecology and their applications;
- It will facilitate solutions to national and international problems related to public health, quality of foodstuffs and habitat, and increase in crops productivity.
Scope of activities:
The duration of the project is 24 months; the total effort takes 3274 man-days; the total effort of the ‘military’ specialists is 2200 man-days. The Institute of Biophysics and Cell Engineering is responsible for testing of the device and development of the procedures of its application.
Design bureau “Pribor” is responsible for the technical project of the device, development of working design documentation, software, as well as production of the pilot sample, scientific and technical support of tests.
Participation of foreign collaborators:
Long-term collaboration is planned with leading scientists from Germany, Bulgaria and Canada engaged in plant physiology and biochemistry, plant cultivation, ecological control and biological instrument-making. Forms of cooperation:
- Information exchange; comments to reports and protocols;
- Joint trials of the equipment developed;
- Arrangement of consultations, joint seminars, workshops and participation in international conferences.
Technical Approach and Methodology:
The technical approach is based on the fact previously established by the project participants about a strict correlation between parameters of plant growth and a physical characteristic of plants, electric capacity. Plants, as highly sensitive biological systems, possess a whole set of receptors providing extensive and exact information about their immediate environment. It allows them to efficiently activate or suppress their growth under the impact of various environmental factors. Specially selected higher plants (biosensors) will be linked to the electric circuit of a measuring device, and their growth response to environment will be transformed into electric signal by an electric capacity data unit. The measuring process doesn’t cause any damage to the plants, nor alter their natural growth. A pilot model of the computerized device for measuring the plant growth response will be designed within the framework of the project; its software and technical documentation will be developed. A previously designed model sample of the device, which had proved high sensitivity of the electric capacity method [Rassadina V. et all. J Farming and Plant Protection (2007) No 2. P. 19-20], and a pilot model produced under the framework of the project will be tested in laboratory conditions to develop procedures of characterization of phyto-toxicity of soils contaminated by heavy metals (salts of lead and cadmium) and by sulfonylurea herbicide “Laren”. The devices will also be tested to characterize the efficiency of bio-preparations such as Baikal EM-1 (Russia), Mycoplant BT (Germany) and ecological preparations by the “Plocher Energiesystem” firm (Germany). Barley plants (Hordeum vulgare L.) will be grown in laboratory conditions in vessels. Starting from early stages of the plants development, their growth will be registered daily by means of the plant electric capacity method.