Raman Spectroscopy Enables Non-invasive and Confirmatory Diagnostics of Salinity Stresses, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium Deficiencies in Rice.
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Proper management of nutrients in agricultural systems is critically important for maximizing crop yields while simultaneously minimizing the health and environmental impacts of pollution from fertilizers. These goals can be achieved by timely confirmatory diagnostics of nutrient deficiencies in plants, which enable precise administration of fertilizers and other supplementation in fields. Traditionally, nutrient diagnostics are performed by wet-laboratory analyses, which are both time- and labor-consuming. Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and satellite imaging have offered a non-invasive alternative. However, these imaging approaches do not have sufficient specificity, and they are only capable of detecting symptomatic stages of nutrient deficiencies. Raman spectroscopy (RS) is a non-invasive and non-destructive technique that can be used for confirmatory detection and identification of both biotic and abiotic stresses on plants. Herein, we show the use of a hand-held Raman spectrometer for highly accurate pre-symptomatic diagnostics of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium deficiencies in rice (Oryza sativa). Moreover, we demonstrate that RS can also be used for pre symptomatic diagnostics of medium and high salinity stresses. A Raman-based analysis is fast (1 s required for spectral acquisition), portable (measurements can be taken directly in the field), and label-free (no chemicals are needed). These advantages will allow RS to transform agricultural practices, enabling precision agriculture in the near future.