Non- destructive monitoring in cassava: A strategy for data collection

By: Mayra Alejandra Toro (CIAT Researcher)

One of the limiting factors in the follow up and monitoring of the processes of growth and development of cassava is to be designated large areas for planting destructive plots; therefore, monitoring requires a large number of plants and is not easy to realize in plots sown for other purposes. Thus, under the agreement between CIAT and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development entitled “Integral analysis of production systems in Colombia for adaptation to climate change”, a strategy for nondestructive monitoring was generated (Figure 1), in order to improve understanding of the physiology of cassava during all stages of its development.


Figure 1. Non-destructive Monitoring System in Cassava generated by CIAT – MADR


This non-destructive method provides a means of monitoring the development of the cassava crop under a range of biophysical environments without the need to plant trials specifically for this purpose and additionally provides the base data used in model building cassava. The information and understanding generated can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of simulated processes of growth and development and thus generate a continuous improvement process to validate and improve the robustness of the model.

This is a strategy that provides an easy means of gathering information because it collects data of great importance and relevance in the process of understanding the development of the crop. The simplest form of monitoring, makes a “reading” of the stem at the time of harvest in order to determine the final structure of the plant and the number of branching levels achieved (Figure 2), the number of nodes formed (Figure 3), the amount of biomass and possible times of stress in the growth cycle of the plant.

Figure 2. Identification of levels of branching


Figure 3. Count of nodes

In the most complex form of monitoring, measurements are made from planting to harvest intervals weekly, biweekly or monthly time and are generated data as the rate of formation of leaves (Figure 4), the longevity of leaves, plant height, number of nodes (Figure 5), the length and diameter of internodes, leaf area of the first fully expanded leaf (Figure 6), the number of active and dead apices, among others. Additionally, measurements of chlorophyll content and the nitrogen content in the leaves, in order to calibrate the SPAD 502 with cassava crop.

Post 3

Figure 4. Measurement of the rate of leaf formation using tickets with date

Post 4

Figure 5.Identification and counting of number of nodes


Figure 6. Measurement of leaf area of the first fully expanded leaf

This is the first approximation of the methodology; we encourage users to voice any concerns and suggest ways of improving the non-destructive monitoring system.