Technology for vegetable crop scouting

Sure, we all have our hand lens, pocket knife, notebook (or electronic device), and other basic tools for crop scouting, but what other, more specialized technology are you using for diagnostics?

Here are a few ideas. Please add your comments on the ONvegetables blog and we can update the list.

Digital microscopes for the field

Digital microscopes are available that connect to a computer and allow you to see detailed images on your screen - as well as capture images and video. For example, Dino-Lite makes handheld digital microscopes that are lightweight, affordable, and simple-to-use, while providing high-quality images. This isn't an endorsement of this brand over others - this is just the brand that I have experience with (a Dino-Lite Basic).

dino-lite digital microscope


Dino-Lite Digital Microscope

The USB 2.0 models work with a computer, but you can get a WiFi adapter that will allow you to see the images and take photos and video on any WiFi-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer (and on multiple devices at a time - good for teaching).

You can see examples of insect photos taken with these digital microscopes at

If you are into do-it-yourself, a very popular Instructables post might inspire you make your own digital microscope: $10 Smartphone to Digital Microscope Conversion ( See the video here:

Photo of smartphone to digital microscope conversion kit


Pathogen Test Kits

Somehow these don't seem as exciting as electronics, but they are a convenient way to diagnose some plant diseases.

This video ( shows how they work. Depending on the kit, the steps may be slightly modified, but this gives a general idea.

Suppliers of test kits include:

Visit their websites to see what pathogens they have kits for and to find Canadian or North American distributors. Common test kits include Phytophthora (eg. to detect pathogens of late blight, Phytophthora blight), bacterial canker of tomato, and various viruses.


Sorry Star Trek fans. Not yet. However, if you type Tricorder into your smartphone app store, you may be amazed.

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