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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Radio-frequency identification could help reduce the spread of plant pathogens


A traceable declaration of health is now necessary for many plants, especially those being monitored for disease such as certified nursery stock. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) microchips placed in woody plants can be used to store and retrieve information on their health status through all phases of propagation and in the field. The microchip is linked to a database in which many other kinds of information, such as pesticide applications, can be collected and linked. Using a Web-based platform, information can be shared globally and accessed quickly. RFID technology can also be integrated with cell phones and netbooks for the easy recording of images and audio, which can be linked back to the chip and shared — or, with global positioning systems (GPS), used to create a virtual orchard or vineyard. There are myriad uses for this new technology, which is expanding rapidly and has been implemented successfully in the European livestock industry. Trials have shown its particular relevance to plant pathology, where it could be an important risk management tool.

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