First, ICRISAT uses X-rays to assess the quality of peanuts


X-ray radiography is widely used as a medical and airport scanner. Now, for the first time in India, X-ray radiography has been established as an effective method to quantify commercially important characteristics of unshelled groundnuts.

The study by a team of researchers from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Fraunhofer Development Center for X-ray Technology (EZRT) demonstrated the potential of radiography x-ray for destructive determination of key market-related traits from x-ray scans of peanuts while still inside the shell.

Dr. Stefan Gerth, Head of Service, EZRT said, “ICRISAT crop researchers have highlighted the critical gaps that frequently prevent Indian farmers from reaping the benefits of their hard work, and researchers from rapid breeding of improved crops. The collaboration helped us adapt our technology so that the gaps could be filled. »

As a result, the groundnut pod evaluation process has become more time and labor efficient. What used to take three or five skilled workers 30 minutes can now be done by one technician in two minutes.

This enables accurate and rapid evaluation of peanut pods for important market-related characteristics, such as kernel weight or shell percentage from X-ray analysis of whole, unshelled peanut pods.

The Computed Tomography (CT) system for such analysis is available at ICRISAT headquarters in Hyderabad, India.

Dr Sunita Choudhary, Scientist, Crop Physiology and Modeling, Accelerated Crop Improvement Programme, ICRISAT, said the use of X-ray technology can revolutionize agricultural research, which relies on methods centuries-old manual or time-consuming laboratory test methods to determine the post-harvest traits of crops.

Technology Driven Breeding Scheme

As part of the study, new AI-based algorithms were developed to extract an accurate estimate of physical traits from X-ray radiographs of whole peanut pods. Due to its success, methods based on X-ray radiography are being incorporated into peanut breeding pipelines.

ICRISAT groundnut breeders now spend a fraction of the usual time sampling and can scan up to 100 samples in a day to choose the best variety for the season.

Dr Janila Pasupuleti, Group Leader – Crop Selection, ICRISAT, said that currently advanced image processing algorithms for “virtual shelling” are standardized to estimate shelling percentage, grain number and mass.

“We are extending these algorithms to estimate the size distribution of seeds and such. Thus, an X-ray scanner used to determine multiple traits is more cost and time efficient than the manual process we followed,” said Doctor Pasupuleti.

Technology-Driven Crop Assessment

Processing algorithms that enable “virtual hulling” are also explored for the assessment of traits of various other crops such as rice, oats and barley, and pigeon pea for the estimation of other important traits. commercially, such as milling recovery.

“We are also exploring the use of X-ray radiography and tomography-based methods to test the viability of seed embryos. In genebanks, a large number of valuable seed samples have to undergo germination testing to check seed viability every few years,” said Dr Sunita Choudhary, Scientist, Crop Physiology and Modelling, Accelerated Crop Improvement Program, ICRISAT.

Technology-Driven Market and Value Chains in the Future

This study showed that X-ray radiography has the potential to be the right technology for the field evaluation of farmers’ produce, which the International Committee on Food Value and Safety is calling for.

A portable X-ray imaging system will be particularly useful in grain value chains where the time required to assess the economic value of grain through threshing or milling is a significant barrier. ICRISAT and EZRT will work together to facilitate the necessary technological transformation of these grain value chains in the near future.

“Replacing manual procurement methods with the use of appropriate technology could standardize and speed up the procurement process in the future. It also allows fair estimation of supply costs for primary producers and all stakeholders in the value chain,” said Dr. Jana Kholova, Group Leader Crop Physiology and Modelling, ICRISAT.

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