Search :
Spring 2000

Research Magazine > ARCHIVE > Spring 00 > Article

Behind the Scenes
by Jennifer T. Daly

Early diagnosis of plant diseases can save entire crops - and millions of dollars.

With plant diseases costing Georgia farmers upwards of $600 million each year, it's easy to see why the Distance Diagnostics through Digital Imaging (DDDI) project has been adopted by nearly three-fifths of Georgia counties in just the past two years.

Created by plant pathologist Edward Brown and information technologist Don Hamilton, the DDDI project allows UGA scientists to examine data from specimens hundreds of miles away and return a diagnosis in mere minutes.

Traditionally, either the scientist had to travel to the diseased field or a sample of the diseased plant had to be carefully packaged and mailed - a process that took days.

"I'm an old dog that learned a new trick," Brown said. "Through DDDI we are now able to better educate growers of perishable crops, vegetables, greenhouse crops - those that don't hold in the field."

The DDDI system works over the Internet. Participating local county extension service offices are equipped with diagnostic imaging stations that include digital cameras, computers and high-powered microscopes. The data reaches university scientists without the samples spoiling in transit.

In the past year alone, DDDI directly saved Georgia farmers $1.2 million, and the program has been expanded to include the diagnosis of insect problems; weed, soil and water issues; and nutritional plant deficiencies.

DDDI also is credited with potentially saving the life of a three-year-old boy who digested four berries that the local poison control center could not immediately identify. By sending images of the plant and berries from the local extension service office to two botanists at the UGA Herbarium, the plant was identified in seven minutes; the child was able to receive prompt treatment and has fully recovered.

Access http://www.dddi.org/ for more information.


Return to Spring 2000 Index

Research Communications, Office of the VP for Research, UGA
For comments or for information please e-mail the editor: rcomm@uga.edu
To contact the webmaster please email: ovprweb@uga.edu










Digital Imaging System