The promise of spectral imaging in agriculture

Various sensors such as color cameras and soil humidity sensors have made their way in agricultural fields over the last few years, increasing yields and optimising the use of resources. Spectral imaging sensors are among the agriculture sensors inventory and hold the promise to revolutionise the whole agricultural sector by allowing users to see beyond what is visible with the human eye. So far, this technology has been too expensive for commercial use while also requiring expensive computational units to interpret their outputs due to their high complexity and sheer size. However, as this technology matures, prices have started to drop, and at the same time, computational power price has been massively lowered. As a result, this technology is gaining traction among the research and business community. Spectral imaging promises early disease detection before symptoms are visible by detecting metabolic changes and robust, accurate disease detection systems by looking at specific parts of the spectrum.

Additionally, these sensors have proven themselves capable of determining quality characteristics of fruits and vegetables such as Brix, vitamin C, and tannin content in a nondestructive way, paving the way for selective harvesting based on the quality characteristics allowing for a uniform, high-quality product. Moreover, damage such as chilling injuries and bruising can also be detected in a nondestructive way before being visible. Finally, contamination from pathogens such as Escherichia coli can also be visually detected, overcoming the need for lab testing. Overall, spectral imaging could change modern agriculture, further optimising production and quality while promoting consumer health and minimising food waste.