In the tests plants were put under stress by treating them with herbicide. The measurements collected by AisaIBIS hyperspectral camera installed in an aircraft showed that the treated plants emitted significantly higher levels of fluorescence than the untreated plants. The conclusion was that fluorescence can be used as an effective early warning of stress in plants and that hyperspectral remote sensing can be used to directly measure plant stress.
The field tests are a part of the FLEX satellite mission that European Space Agency (ESA) is currently evaluating to be selected as the eighth Earth Explorer. SPECIM’s AisaIBIS, or Hyplant as it is called by the researchers, has been the airborne demonstrator for the proposed FLEX mission since 2012. FLEX proposes to measure fluorescence as an indicator of photosynthetic activity.
Plant health and stress has long been recognised as a significant factor in the understanding of the Earth’s carbon cycle along with agricultural management and food security. Remotely measuring this has been difficult until SPECIM developed AisaIBIS in cooperation with Forschungszentrum Jülich.