SCOUT-MOBILE – Starting up a 3 year GUDP supported Project

It is spring the winter oilseed rape is budding, ready to flower and suddenly there is a major rise in the pollen beetle population ready to munch on all the budding flowers reducing the potential yield.  Conventional farming practice would be to spray the field to try and reduce the pollen beetle population, but this practice unfortunately means that other insects in the same field (such pollinators and other beneficials) are also sprayed – but what if the farmer could target specific areas of the field and only spray where the pollen beetle numbers are high and thereby avoid targeting other insects in the same field?

In the late summer 2020 FaunaPhotonics embarked on a 3-year project with the University of Aarhus Flakkebjerg, supported with around seven and a half million kroner from GUDP (Grønt Udviklings- og Demonstrationsprogram) administered by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, to tackle this problem.

Following the successful development of our stationary sensor, in this project we will be working on mobilizing our technology.

With the current sensor technology FaunaPhotonics can determine what insects and when insects enter the field. With this project we will be working on where in the field the insects are.

The technology will be developed to be mounted on a moving vehicle – a tractor or field robot. FaunaPhotonics has already done preliminary tests mounting the current sensor on a tractor spraying boom, with promising results.

Development will focus on creating heatmaps of fields, showing farmers what areas of the field have high pest insect counts and what areas do not. Coupled with intelligent spraying equipment and GPS driven tractors this data could give farmers the possibility of reducing the amount of pesticides sprayed in each field.

“When this equipment is fully developed, we hope to reduce up to 84 percent of the insecticide used in fields” says Jesper Lemmich, CTO of FaunaPhotonics and project manager of this project. The assumption is based on assessments from the European Parliamentary Research Service, EPRS.

Crop wise the project will focus on winter oilseed rape and white clover seed with the major pests, pollen beetles, cabbage stem flea beetles, clover head weevils and white clover seed weevils. But it will also be very interesting to look at pollinators such as honeybees as both crops need pollination to develop seeds.

Other crops and insects could become part of the project going ahead.

“But we need to differentiate the solutions for each crop. There will not be a one size fits all solution. We need to find out where our technology can create value for the farmer and biodiversity at the same time, as this will be where we are relevant” says Jesper Lemmich.

Knowing how much our stationary sensor has changed these past 3 years, it will be great and interesting to follow the development of this project.

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