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Automated System for Insect Monitoring and Management in Citrus Groves

Technology #17340

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Researchers
Ioannis Ampatzidis
Victor Henrique Meirelles Partel
Philip Anzolut Stansly
Managed By
John Byatt
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Detects and Monitors Infestations of Asian Citrus Psyllid and Other Pests in Real Time to Efficiently Inform Insecticide Application

This automated vision-based pest monitoring system can rapidly and accurately detect, monitor, geolocate and count Asian citrus psyllids (ACPs) in citrus groves. ACPs are a carrier for citrus greening disease, which rapidly kills citrus plants without a known cure, causing serious threat to commercial citrus production in Florida, California and other areas. Vector management is therefore critical to slow the spread of citrus greening. The most effective way to control citrus greening is eliminating carriers like ACPs before they infect trees by spraying them with pesticides. Since estimates from 2016 place the cost of spraying at $630 per acre, cost-efficiency demands that growers spray only infected sections. However, ACP infestation detection currently relies mostly on sticky-trap captures to determine spraying needs, which is slow and costly. Sticky-trap sampling is also inaccurate because these traps assess ACP numbers in flight rather than in trees, which can lead to over- or under-spraying. Tap sampling is far more effective, but manual tap sampling requires a large group of workers to manually sample trees and is therefore labor-intensive. It also requires manually mapping the locations of samples in order to determine infested areas of an orchard. 

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed an automated vision-based tap system to monitor ACPs in trees and prescribe the right amount of pesticide in the right locations. The system is designed to mount on a mobile vehicle, such as a tractor, truck, autonomous vehicle or a variable-rate pesticide applicator. This system can then detect, distinguish, count and geolocate ACPs in an orchard to provide real-time data through wireless communication to generate a prescription map and control precise pesticide delivery based on pest incidence.

Application
Vision-based system that automates ACP detection and infestation mapping in citrus groves for targeted pest control to prevent the spread of citrus greening disease
Advantages

• Provides real-time data on the location of ACPs, enabling a detailed, remote map of infestations in an area for more efficient targeted pest control, reducing pesticide spraying costs
• Mounts onto various mobile vehicles, enabling collection of reliable data throughout an entire orchard
• Uses a tapping method which involves striking a tree, collecting the fallen pests and then counting them, detecting ACPs more accurately than sticky-trap sampling
• Transfers data wirelessly to a cloud-based GIS database, enabling interaction with remote mapping programs
• Learns to detect other orchard pests, as well as beneficial insects, making the system customizable



Technology
Tap sampling is done by manually beating the lower branches of citrus trees and collecting the fallen pests. This sampling accurately detects presence of ACPs in citrus orchards and thereby allows growers to track their concentrations, but it is a labor- and time-intensive process. This vision-based system automates tap sampling in order to streamline ACP monitoring and elimination in citrus groves. A rotating drum beats the branches of the trees and catches the fallen ACPs in much the same way as a human laborer would. Once samples are taken, though, the system uses a grid of multiple cameras to generate a highly-detailed image of the concentration of sampled pests and their locations. A smart controller uses a classification algorithm and artificial intelligence to visually detect ACPs and count them. This intelligent system also automatically interfaces wirelessly with remote mapping programs, transferring geo-referenced ACP data to a cloud-based GIS database. This database not only stores the collected data, the number of ACPs, GPS coordinates, and the date and time detected, but also compiles and maps the data to direct application of pesticide based on the ACP incidence. This maximizes spray efficiency and saves considerable time and effort by automating both data collection and data-based mapping. Though this system is currently optimized for ACP monitoring, it uses machine learning to develop its classification algorithm to recognize a variety of pests and sample them as well.

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