Keynotes and Tutorials

Session Chair: Victor Grimblatt
Abstract: In the past decade, new technologies and tools permitted to redefine crop protection, helping reducing the environmental impact and increasing effectiveness of plant disease management strategies. New instruments useful for the collection of images and their processing, as well as methods of remote diagnosis have been developed. The possibility of using non-invasive optical sensors to highlight, identify and quantify the presence of pathogens on different scales has provided great possibilities for the diagnosis of plant diseases. Image processing using machine and deep learning in plant pathology is applied for the classification of diseases, the identification of pathogens and the quantification of disease severity. The use of mobile phones brings the results of these analyses everywhere. Sensors applied to tractors or other equipment permit to monitor the environmental and soil conditions, providing, together with the possibility of collecting and processing data, useful information for deciding how and when to intervene with sprays or other treatments. Smart packaging of horticultural products can provide information on their safety (presence of chemical contaminants, such as pesticide residues or mycotoxins) and freshness, as well as extend their shelf-life. The results obtained in projects carried out in the horticultural sector will be critically discussed, as well as the constraints still hampering a broader practical application of the new technologies. The need of investing in training a qualified and up-dated extension service as well as the many opportunities offered to young graduates to start companies in this field will be stressed.

Session Chair: Danilo Demarchi
Abstract: We live on a planet where two very different realities coexist. On the one hand, a world driven by the Internet, mobile phones, i-Phones, i-Tunes, i-Pads, i-Pods, high-definition television, the global economy, on-demand medications for depression, cholesterol, erectile disfunction or hypertension. The other reality, however, shows us a world where 2 out of 3 people do not have access to clean water, where more than 80% of the world population lives on less than 10 dollars a day and where according to UNICEF, in 2021, 5.0 million children died (close to 14.000 per day) before reaching 5 years of age. Globally, infectious diseases, including pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, remain a leading cause of under-five deaths, along with preterm birth and intrapartum-related complications. In this other reality, thousands of deaths are produced daily by tuberculosis, AIDS, or malaria. Most of these deaths due to starvation or infectious disease can be prevented. In the 90s of the last century, the existence of a social problem called the “digital divide” was revealed to draw attention to the great social inequalities that are established between individuals based on the possibility or not of have access to the internet and communication technologies. Dr. Kun will address different aspects of these two realities, such as the growth of the global population, the interdependence between this growth, the sustainability of peoples (water, food, energy, etc.) in the global economy and the contribution to everything. This is due to the significant increase in the number of natural and industrial disasters, many of them a direct consequence of climate change. Dr. Kun will propose a change in attitude and the need to apply new formulas to face all these challenges. In his opinion, the wars and conflicts of the future will be over water, food, energy, and medicines, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between peoples and particularly the need for education.

Session Chair: Matias Miguez
Abstract: Tree water status is fundamental for growth and productivity. Gas exchanges at leaf level depend on water availability, and they are important because: i) they allow CO2 to enter the leaf, so photosynthesis can occur; ii) the leaf controls its temperature by evaporating H2O in the substomatal cavity, absorbing latent heat of evaporation in the process; iii) as water reaches the leaves, a stream of nutrients, hormones, carbohydrates, and other substances needed for growth is transported from the roots to the canopy. The sheer volume of this stream is impressive: a fruit tree of modest size (e.g. not taller than 4 m) can transpire up to 20 liters of water per day. While we have a strong array of tools to gauge this movement within the plant, to date we lack non-destructive, low-cost, digital solutions to monitor water movement within the tree. Some tools exist to gauge the tension the leaves must generate to draw water from the roots, but they could be improved. Precise irrigation inputs could be determined by knowing the amount of work a tree is performing to extract water from the soil and lift it to the canopy. Currently, a plant-based sensor is commercially available, which provides a continuous monitoring of stem water potentials, but it has drawbacks consisting of high price and limited use (normally 1 growing season). Other plant based sensors include dendrometers, to gauge trunk shrinkage/expansion, disease sensors, electronic insect traps, soil sensors for macronutrients availability, fruit diameter gauges, in addition to weather stations that can be deployed in the orchard to provide real-time temperature, relative humidity, wind and rain data. Weather data is very useful if it can be combined with plant performance indicators. Fruit growth is possibly the most interesting indicator of a tree’s well-being, as it is the result of many processes that growers try to control, in order to maximize orchard productivity. Growth is the result of water and carbohydrate inflows to the fruit, via the xylem and the phloem vascular systems, and the water outflow through the fruit epidermis. All three flows are affected by local environmental conditions, in addition to genetic and physiological determinants. Fruits differ for the type of mechanism that is supporting their growth, but knowledge is available regarding which type is adopted by a specific fruit, like apple, at any time during its growing season. This session will be designed to present some physiological determinants of tree behavior, and then discuss potential solutions for novel sensors. The goal is provide thought-provoking insights for interested minds.