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​October 2020

Technological Advances for Plant Health

Plant pathogens negatively impact plant health by causing crop diseases that threaten yields in the field and in storage. Other microbes found in or on crops can reduce food quality and safety, potentially threatening human health. Changing global climate adds to these problems. Harsh environments including hot and dry climates can stress crop plants, making them more susceptible to plant pathogens and microbes that impact food safety. The risks to our food system are real..

Science to the rescue! Across the globe, scientists and engineers are using cutting edge technologies to protect food crops, improve food safety, and reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture. Modern plant breeding approaches like gene editing allow scientists to create crops better able to defend themselves against pathogens and diseases and more resilient to climate extremes. These improved crops need fewer pesticides and can provide a bounty of nutritious food. Farming is getting smarter, driven by technological advances such as robotics and AI. These technologies provide rapid identification and response to plant stresses. Using robotics, for example, a farmer might use just a fraction of the chemical fertilizer they traditionally used--applying the right nutrients only to stressed plants rather than spreading it across an entire field. And plant pathologists are using machine-learning to rapidly identify disease, track disease spread across a field, a state or the globe, and help farmers make timely and effective decisions to prevent crop losses. These and other technologies are revolutionizing farming and food production with direct benefits to the environment and every human being.

Technological advances that support plant health are fueled by research funded by state and federal government agencies, private companies, and philanthropic organizations. Investment in the STEM fields is an investment in plant health. Support local schools, museums, and other resources that promote science literacy. Advocate for state and federal support for science research funding. Or consider donating to a land-grant university or other research institution. Together we can make a difference.

Plant Health Is Your Health!

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