Trapview: Can an AI-powered bug trap solve a $220 billion pest problem?

Trapview: Can an AI-powered bug trap solve a $220 billion pest problem?
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CNN Business

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

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

“We have created the world’s largest database of insect images, which allows us to 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 and disrupts the migration patterns of highly destructive pests such as desert locustsŠtefančič hopes to help farmers save their crops with faster and smarter interventions.

Automated devices have been used to monitor grapes, tomatoes, olives, fruit trees and, pictured, brassicas.

Trapview’s devices use pheromones to attract pests, which are photographed by a camera inside. AI compares the images to the Trapview database and is able to identify more than 60 species, including the codling moth, which affects apples, and the cotton bollworm, which can damage lettuce and tomatoes. Once identified, the system incorporates location and weather data, maps the insect’s potential impact, and sends the findings to farmers via an app.

Depending on the terrain and the value of the crop, a single trap could cover an area from a few hectares to more than 100, according to Štefančič. The devices come in various shapes and sizes, and the system adapts to crops and landscapes. Štefančič says that a single insect can sometimes be cause for alarm. In other cases, you can catch hundreds of insects and still not be a cause for concern.

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

Trapview is one of several automated pest detection systems.

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

About 2 million tons of pesticides are used each year, Edgington explains.

“Reducing the amount of pesticides used on agricultural land is very important if we want to grow food sustainably and amid the challenges of pests, diseases and climate change,” he adds.

Trapview currently employs 50 people and received a $10 million investment in September. You’re not alone in using AI to help with pest control. Pessl Instruments has developed iScouta solar-powered insect trap and camera identification system, while FarmSense flight sensor listen for pests and use the AI ​​to identify them through the sound of their flapping wings.

Solutions like Trapview’s represent a departure from conventional pest management, which generally relies on reactive rather than proactive approaches, according to Buyung Hadi, FAO agricultural officer.

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

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

Trapview says it has sold more than 7,500 devices in more than 50 countries since its launch in 2012. It has focused on Italy, France, Spain, the United States and Brazil, with crops as varied as grapes, tomatoes, olives, tree fruits, brassicas ., cotton and sugar cane.

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