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B. How MRI Technology May Be Used in Agriculture

Narrator: This is Science Today. Using technology borrowed from the medical field, University of California agriculture engineers have developed a new device for detecting freeze damaged citrus fruits without having to cut them open. Agricultural engineer Jim Thompson says the device was built to measure water quality content and uses the same principle as magnetic resonance imaging.

Thompson: When the fruit has been frozen, the cell structure is disrupted compared with normal fruit and the magnetic resonance signal will detect the fact that the water is held different in the fruit cells in those areas where the fruit cells have been damaged by freezing.

Narrator: But as in the medical field, an MRI-type fruit scanner would be expensive.

Thompson: At this point the magnetic resonance imaging cost in the range of about forty thousand dollars, which is fairly expensive. Although, some of the detection systems we use now in packing lines are about that same cost. So while it is expensive, if it's accurate, it would be worthwhile.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.