‘Wearable’ sensors for plants: World Economic Forum emerging technologies report 

As a World Economic Forum platform partner, Frontiers is collaborating with the Forum on the 2023 edition of its annual emerging technologies report. Chosen by an international panel of experts, the list of top ten emerging technologies included in the report were selected from nearly 100 contenders based on criteria including novelty, applicability, depth, and power. 

Credit: Frontiers

“Wearable” sensors for plants    

To feed the world’s population in 2050, food production must increase by 70%, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. To achieve this, agricultural innovation will be crucial, and technology is a key element of this.  

Recent advances in crop monitoring, including the use of sensor-equipped drones and tractors alongside low-resolution satellite data, have helped farmers by increasing the scale of crop monitoring. However wearable plant sensors will take this monitoring to a new level, and it is this area of innovation which has been highlighted in the 2023 World Economic Forum emerging technologies report. 

Wearable plant sensors are small devices that can attach to crop plants to continuously monitor temperature, humidity, moisture, and nutrient levels. This data can optimize yields, reduce waste, detect early signs of disease and minimize the environmental impact of agriculture. Although challenges remain, wearable plant sensors may revolutionize crop production and management. 

Lei Shu, speciality chief editor at Frontiers in Plant Sciences, one of the journals supporting the Forum report, said: “Wearable plant sensors with wireless communication, sustainable data collection, and large-scale deployment, allow humans greater environmental insight through direct interaction with plant life. This enriches the data available to us and will help provide a new way to solve many problems in agricultural production.” 

Rona Chandrawati of the Forum report’s steering committee remarked on the impact of wearable plant sensors, noting: “In the quest to address global food security, wearable plant sensors are a technological innovation that is poised to revolutionize crop production and management. By providing real-time data on plant health and environmental conditions, plant sensors can improve productivity and help to feed the world’s growing population.” 

About the emerging technologies report 

For the first time this year the emerging technologies report incorporates “impact fingerprint” survey data offering a more in-depth analysis of the technology’s predicted impact on people, planet, prosperity, industry, and equity over coming years. The academics surveyed were selected from Frontiers’ network of scientific journal editors, while industry leaders were selected from the Forum’s Innovator Communities.  

Frontiers’ chief executive editor Frederick Fenter, who has spearheaded the publisher’s collaboration on the report, said: “This report is an important interface between researchers working at the forefront of science and the leaders who need to understand their work. It has been particularly inspiring to collaborate with the Forum in developing new features to enhance the report’s impact and consolidate its position as an essential resource across research, industry and policy making.” 

To facilitate deeper engagement with the emerging technologies, Frontiers has also co-curated transformation maps for each technology. These are hosted on the Forum’s strategic intelligence platform, where readers can learn more about the key issues of each technology and how it connects to other topics on the global agenda, as well as find the latest articles on the topic from trusted sources. 

About Frontiers  

Frontiers is the 3rd most-cited and 6th largest research publisher. We publish groundbreaking discoveries by the world’s top experts. Scientists empower society and our mission is to accelerate scientific discovery by making science open. We place the researcher at the center of everything we do and enable the research community to develop the solutions we need to live healthy lives on a healthy planet. Featuring custom-built technology, artificial intelligence, and rigorous quality standards, our research articles have been viewed more than 1.9 billion times, reflecting the power of research that is open for all.  


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