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Scot Nelson

Scot Nelson

Fresh from his success with two widely utilized smartphone apps, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources plant pathologist Scot Nelson has created a new and more technical app, the Leaf Doctor.

Disease tends to increase over time and space, whether in an individual plant or in a plant population, and researchers need to know how fast and how far it’s increasing. Plant epidemiology includes the assessment of disease in order to make a mathematical model of its progress in time and space. Being able to accurately quantify disease is necessary for growers looking at different plant varieties for disease resistance, or breeders attempting to introduce increased resistance into a new hybrid.

Nelson says there is one computer-based plant disease assessment system available for PC users but it costs $795 and is difficult to use, not interactive and not particularly accurate. By contrast, the easy-to-use, interactive app that he has created may be downloaded for free to iPhones and other iOS devices at Leaf Doctor website and is accurate to within a percentage point.

leaf doctor app

leaf doctor app

User takes a picture with their iPhone or calls one up from the phone’s gallery, then identifies the coloration of healthy tissue in the photo by touching the screen to identify up to seven healthy areas on the plant to account for natural color variations, light changes, and veins. A slide bar is used is used to mask out everything that is not healthy, which the app identifies as diseased tissue and calculates as a percentage of total leaf area displayed.

Nelson anticipates that the main users of the app will be plant epidemiologists and breeders, and plant pathology professors and students, not necessarily home gardeners. However, it may have more users than originally assumed, because it is free and fun to use, and its far-ranging applications could be used for quantifying the area in any photograph for skin disease or invasive species.

Read the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources news release for the full story.

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