Trapview: Can an AI-Powered Insect Trap Solve a 0 Billion Pest Problem?

Trapview: Can an AI-Powered Insect Trap Solve a $220 Billion Pest Problem?

Trapview: Can an AI-Powered Insect Trap Solve a 0 Billion Pest Problem?


London
CNN Business

Pests destroy up to 40% of the world’s crops each year, causing $220 billion in economic losses, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Trapview harnesses the power of AI to help tackle the problem.

The Slovenian company has developed a device that catches and identifies pests and acts as an early warning system by predicting how they will spread.

“We have built the largest database of images of insects in the world, which allows us to really use modern AI-based computer vision in the most optimal way,” says Matej Štefančič, CEO of Trapview and parent company EFOS.

As climate change causes species to spread, disrupting the migration patterns of highly destructive pests such as desert locusts, Štefančič hopes to help farmers save their crops with faster and smarter interventions.

The automated devices have been used to monitor grapes, tomatoes, olives, tree fruits and, pictured here, brassicas.

Trapview’s devices use pheromones to attract pests, which are photographed by a camera inside. The AI ​​cross-references the images against Trapview’s database, and is able to identify over 60 species, such as the codling moth, which plagues apples, and the cotton bollworm, which can damage lettuce and tomatoes. Once identified, the system incorporates location and weather data, maps the likely impact of the insect and sends the findings to farmers via an app.

Depending on the terrain and the value of the crop, a single trap can cover an area of ​​a few hectares to more than 100, according to Štefančič. Units come in various shapes and sizes, with the system tailored to crops and landscapes. Štefančič says that a single insect can sometimes be cause for alarm. In other cases, hundreds of insects can be caught and still be no cause for concern.

Trapview’s app is also able to calculate where and when it is best to use pesticides. Štefančič says Trapview can significantly reduce the use of chemical sprays and the need for farmers to visit their fields. By reducing the emissions generated by farmers who drive to their fields, and those linked to the production and transport of pesticides, the technology can also help the climate, he claims.

Trapview is one of a number of automated pest detection systems.

“Any agritech and AI that can help meet the challenges of the global food crisis is a good thing,” says Steve Edgington, team leader for biopesticides at the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International, a nonprofit intergovernmental organization.

Around 2 million tonnes of pesticides are used each year, explains Edgington.

“It is very important to reduce the amount of pesticide use on agricultural land if we are to produce food sustainably and amidst the challenges of pests and diseases and climate change,” he adds.

Trapview currently employs 50 people, and received $10 million in investment in September. It is not alone in using AI to help pest control. Pessl Instruments has developed iScout, a solar-powered insect trap and camera identification system, while FarmSense’s FlightSensor listens for pests and uses AI to identify them via the sound of wingbeats.

Solutions like Trapviews represent a shift away from conventional pest control, which is usually based on reactive, rather than proactive, approaches, according to Buyung Hadi, Agriculture Officer at FAO.

“Predictive technologies can facilitate the transition to more sustainable crop protection if combined with solutions that are safe and sustainable, such as biological control,” says Hadi, while cautioning that the quality of data from these technologies is key.

“Great care must be taken in formulating the messages and recommendations that come out of predictive technologies so that they do not create panic among farmers that could trigger the very indiscriminate use of pesticides that we want to avoid in the first place,” he adds. .

Trapview says it has sold over 7,500 units in more than 50 countries since it launched in 2012. It has focused on Italy, France, Spain, the US and Brazil, targeting crops as diverse as grapes, tomatoes, olives, tree fruits, brassicas . , cotton and sugarcane.

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