New drone technology protects trees against climate change
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As climate change continues to impact tree health, trees planted today need to be able to withstand future climate instability. Professor Ingo Ensminger and his team at the University of Toronto have developed an innovative technology that could provide further insights into the environmental factors that contribute to overall tree health and performance. 

The drone-based technology, known as the FastPheno project, can remotely assess plant health and fitness, such as a tree’s ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. With this information, researchers can provide data collected from the drones to help support the work of tree breeders and forest practitioners. This includes, helping identify trees that are resilient to climate change, developing tree improvement programs and target setting for forest conservation and management.  

The technology has also shown to be fast, reliable and more cost-effective compared to existing vegetation monitoring tools and methods that primarily rely on visual inspections and manual measurements. As a result, FastPheno could create cost savings of $540 million per year and reduce assessment times from weeks to hours. The technology can also be translated from forest vegetation to applications in agriculture, conservation and biodiversity studies. 

The impact of Ensminger’s research was recently recognized nationally by Genome Canada, awarding him $4.7 million in research program funding. 

For more information, visit the University of Toronto. 

“This is an exhilarating time for genomics. The knowledge, tools and technologies it is generating are driving innovation in traditional sectors and helping them achieve green growth, as well as improving the health and quality of life of Canadians.”
Rob Annan
President and CEO, Genome Canada
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