Performance of cylindrical leaf wetness duration sensors in a tropical climate condition

Desempenho de sensores cilíndricos para medida da duração do período de molhamento foliar em condições de clima tropical

Leaf wetness duration (LWD) measurements are required for disease warning in several agricultural systems, since it is an important variable for the diagnose of plant disease epidemiology. The cylindrical sensor is an inexpensive and simple electronic LWD sensor initially designed to measure this variable for onions, however some studies show that it may be helpful for standard measurements in weather stations and also for different crops. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess their performance under tropical climate conditions, in Brazil, having as standard measurements those obtained by flat plate sensors, which have presented very good performance when compared with visual observations. Before field assessments, all LWD sensors used in our study (flat plates and cylinders) were white latex painted and submitted to a heat treatment. Laboratory tests were performed in order to determine the resistance threshold for the sensor to be considered wet and the time response of the sensors to wetness. In the field, all cylindrical sensors were initially deployed horizontally 30-cm above a turfgrass surface in order to assess the variability among them with respect to LWD measurements. The variability among the horizontal cylindrical sensors was reduced by using a specific resistance threshold for each sensor. The mean coefficient of variation (CV) of LWD data measured by the cylindrical sensors was 9.7%. After that, the cylindrical sensors were deployed at five different angles: 0º, 15º, 30º, 45º, and 60º. Data of measurements made at these angles were compared with the standard measurement, obtained by flat plate sensors at the same height and installed at 45º. The deployment angle had no systematic effect on LWD measurements for the local tropical conditions, since the correlations between flat plate and elevated cylinder measurements were very high (R² > 0.91), which differed from the results obtained under temperate climatic conditions, where LWD measured by cylinders were two hours longer than by flat plate sensors.

deployment angle; electronic sensors; dew; rain; disease-warning systems

São Paulo - Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz" USP/ESALQ - Scientia Agricola, Av. Pádua Dias, 11, 13418-900 Piracicaba SP Brazil, Tel.: +55 19 3429-4401 / 3429-4486, Fax: +55 19 3429-4401 - Piracicaba - SP - Brazil