Pests destroy 40% of the world’s crops each year $220 billion in economic losses, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Trapview is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to help tackle the problem.
The Slovenian company has developed a device that catches and identifies pests, and acts as an advance warning system by predicting how they will spread.
“We have created the largest database of insect images in the world, which really allows us to use modern AI-based computing vision in an 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 locustŠtefančič hopes to help farmers save their crops with faster, smarter interventions.
Trapview devices use pheromones to attract pests, which are filmed by a camera inside. The AI reviews the images against a Trapview database and is able to identify more than 60 species, such as the codling moth, which infests apples, and the bollworm, which can damage lettuce and tomatoes. Once identified, the system integrates location and weather data, maps the insect’s potential impact and sends the results back to farmers via an app.
Depending on the terrain and the value of the crop, a single trap can cover an area from a few hectares to more than 100, according to Štefančič. The devices come in different shapes and sizes, with a system specifically designed for crops and landscaping. Sometimes a single bug can be a cause for concern, says Štefančič. In other cases, hundreds of insects can be captured and still not be a cause for concern.
Trapview is also able to calculate where and when pesticides are best used. Stefanic says Trapview can significantly reduce the use of chemical sprays and the need for farmers to visit their fields. by reducing emissions from Farmers who drive to their fields, and those associated with the production and transportation of pesticides, claim the technology can help the climate, too.
“Any agricultural technology and artificial intelligence that can help address the challenges of the global food crisis is a good thing,” says Steve Eddington, team leader of the biopesticides team at the Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International, an intergovernmental nonprofit.
Edgington states that about 2 million tons of pesticides are used each year.
“It is very important to reduce the amount of pesticide use on agricultural land if we are to produce food sustainably and amid the challenges of pests, diseases and climate change,” he adds.
Trapview currently employs 50 people, and secured $10 million in investment in September. It’s not alone in using artificial intelligence to help fight pests. Pessl Instruments iScoutsolar powered insect trap and camera identification system, while FarmSense FlightSensor It listens for pests and uses artificial intelligence to identify them by the sound of their wings beating.
Solutions like Trapview represent a shift away from traditional pest management, which typically relies on a reactive, rather than proactive approach, according to Buyung Hadi, agricultural officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization.
“Predictive technologies can facilitate the transition to more sustainable crop protection if combined with safe and sustainable solutions, such as biological control,” says Hadi, while cautioning that the quality of data from these technologies is key.
“Extreme care must be taken in crafting the messages and recommendations from predictive technologies so as not to create panic among farmers that could lead to the indiscriminate use of pesticides that we wish 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 focused on Italy, France, Spain, the United States and Brazil, targeting crops as diverse as grapes, tomatoes, olives, tree fruits, brassicas, cotton and sugarcane.