Case Study: Attack of the invaders – how IoT technology is helping stop harmful pests

Hollywood has it all wrong. The sweeping waves of unfamiliar beings with the intention of gobbling up every last remaining resource won’t come from slowly rotating spaceships. They are already among us

An invasive species is any non-native plant, pathogen, or animal that has been introduced to a new territory where it has the capacity to cause great damage to the environment, human health, or human wealth. Invasive species are often quick to reproduce, easy to disperse, and difficult to detect. These alien creatures prey heavily on native species and are generally associated with humans. There is a history of some invasive breeds that were released intentionally, but a majority are transmitted accidentally through international trade.

The high cost of invasive species

While difficult to calculate with absolute certainty, a research paper from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University titled ‘Economic and Environmental Threats of Alien Plant, Animal, and Microbe Invasions’ estimates the annual global impact of invasive species totals more than US$1.4 trillion, or roughly 5% of the world economy. The impact of this problem on biodiversity is also well documented. The National Center for Coastal Ocean Science estimates nearly half of the species protected under the Endangered Species Act are directly threatened by invasive species.

Invasive insects that burrow into trees have proven to be among the most difficult of dangerous exotic species to detect – and even more burdensome to extinguish. The Emerald Ash Borer, for example, was discovered in 2002 near Detroit, Michigan and quickly spread to 25 other states. This insect was responsible for US$10.7bn in treatment, removal and tree replacement costs.

Meet the Red Palm Weevil

The newest threat on the horizon comes in the form of a large snout beetle known as the Red Palm Weevil.

Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, or the Red Palm Weevil, is naturally found in tropical southeastern Asia. Migration of this species was first detected in the late 1980s, and the pest has rapidly made its way around the world. The quick proliferation of this animal was due, in part, to the fact that nations and agricultural producers in temperate and often isolated climates (i.e. islands) are at the greatest risk for invasive species because their regions can harbour a variety of pests and often have a less dense selection of wildlife to counterbalance the effects of an alien attack.

Red Palm Weevil

The weevil generally targets young palm trees less than 20 years of age. Adult insects will quickly colonize new palms and begin feeding. The greatest damage to the trees, though, results when the larvae begin to tunnel into the heart of the tree. Symptoms like wilting and yellowing of leaves often occur only long after the infestation has begun and the tree is past saving. International agricultural, pest control, biological experts convened at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome come up with a comprehensive plan to stop spread of the Red Palm Weevil.

“The Red Palm Weevil represents the most dangerous threat to date palm,” FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Near East and North Africa, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, told attendees at the opening session. “Insufficient implementation of phytosanitary standards, lack of an effective preventive strategy and insufficient monitoring of response measures explain the failure in containing the pest so far.”

An innovative answer to invasive pests

Agrint is an exciting new company using smart sensors to help detect the infestation of the Red Palm Weevil and similar insects. Agrint has developed a low-cost and low-energy Internet of Things (IoT) system that can transmit early detection notifications about infestation of a tree. The Agrint approach couples an extremely high sensitivity sensor that can pick up on the subtle vibrations of larvae as they begin to tunnel through the tree with a unique algorithm that analyses the data for specific patterns. This information is continuously fed to the cloud and updated to utilise big data and help users stay tuned into behavioural trends and analysis. The ‘IOtree’ solution can be used to protect date palms, ornamental palms, oil palms, and coconut palms. This allows farmers to increase the efficiency of pesticide management and save trees from damage, which eliminates costly replacement expenses. Agrint has already deployed their technology to places like Jordan, where it is being used to help remove trees local farmers would not normally know are infested.

A powerful partnership

When Agrint was looking for an IoT partner who could provide them with reliable and secure technology, it chose MultiTech. MultiTech provides reliable devices, outstanding support and advanced cloud services.

Tomar Touanti of Agrint, notes how the gateway’s “…features and adjustability save us money.” This partnership will help prevent the spread of difficult invasive species across the globe. The application of IoT technology to support agriculture and biological processes is only just beginning. Ideas like the IOtree will allow for previously impossible detection of animals, plants, and pathogens that could harm Earth’s biodiversity and cost billions to remove.

www.multitech.com

FEATURED IoT STORIES

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more
RECENT ARTICLES

Nozomi Networks and Tripwire announce strategic partnership

Posted on: September 17, 2021

Nozomi Networks Inc., the provider of OT and IoT security, and Tripwire, a global provider of security and compliance solutions for enterprises and industrial organisations, announced they have partnered to help organisations lower cyber risk with consistent security controls that span their IT, OT and IoT environments.

Read more

RightIndem deploys enterprise-grade conversational AI to simplify customer claims process

Posted on: September 17, 2021

RightIndem, an global insurance technology company, has worked with Bristol-based Amdaris to simplify its customer onboarding process via developing enterprise-grade conversational Artificial Intelligence experiences.

Read more