The RICE-GUARD monitoring system is a tool designed to assist rice-growers in their rice blast management decisions. Rice blast is the most serious disease of cultivated rice. It is caused by the fungus Magnaporthe grisea (Pyricularia oryzae Cav.), which in favourable conditions can produce yield losses of up to 100 %. The fungus affects all the rice-growing regions of the world, including all rice-producing countries in the EU, and it is estimated to cause yearly losses of up to 30 % of the global rice harvest, which would be enough to feed 60 million people.
The intensity of rice blast (incidence and severity of disease) is highly variable and depends on cropping system and climate. All the phases of the disease cycle are driven by the site-specific weather and environmental conditions. Currently, when rice growers see menacing environmental conditions, they spray their fields with fungicide. However, there are not many fungicides that are effective in combating rice blast. As a result, rice is the second largest crop consumer of fungicides in the world, some of them being highly noxious.
This project will develop a wireless sensor network comprised of low-cost measurement nodes that will be capable of transmitting readings of the relevant in-field site-specific environmental variables in real-time to a central server. The systems’ software will combine these data with other relevant cultivation parameters in order to supply up-to-date information to rice growers. The RICE-GUARD monitoring system will enable cultivators to effectively protect their paddy fields and greatly reduce fungicide consumption, reducing environmental impact, increasing food security and crop yields.