14-ATC2 Feasibility of developing autonomous SmartTraps for remote monitoring Spotted Wing Drosophila in soft and stone fruit

Lead Research Organisation: East Malling Research
Department Name: Science

Abstract

The accurate monitoring of pests is key to profitable crop production and lowers pesticide use through improved timing of application. This project will investigate the feasibility of developing a SmartTraps system for remote monitoring of Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), an invasive fruit pest that has increased the cost of production by 10% in Europe and the US and threatens the UK soft and stone fruit industries. The feasibility of rapidly and accurately identifying the near microscopic Spotted Wing Drosophila males and females by image analysis in compact, autonomous, non-saturating traps will be determined as the key preliminary step and technological challenge. The traps will allow much closer and more reliable monitoring of SWD, and will be a significant advancement in pest specific monitoring technology, allowing real time cloud-based data integration accessible on the web and a variety of mobile platforms. The technology will have wide application for numerous pests globally.

Technical Summary

This project will explore the feasibility and preliminary development of the most difficult core processes of a remote autonomous monitoring system for SWD: automated identification of SWD males and females in a self powered trap which could be deployed in crops and not require regular servicing. Proof of the concept and potential routes to exploitation will be established.
WORKPLAN:
Workpackage 1: Hardware:
Task 1.1. Prototype trap design and construction (Q1-3)
Task 1.2. Hardware testing and refinement (Q4-Q6).
Workpackage 2: Software:
Task 2.1. Development of software algorithms for recognising SWD males and females (Q1-4).
Workpackage 3. Business planning:
Task 3.1. Market and economic assessment (Q4-6).

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries of the outputs of this research will be the soft fruit, stone fruit and vine growers who monitor and control Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) in their crops. SWD, a highly destructive invasive pest of soft and stone fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, plums, grapes) which since 2008 has spread from Asia throughout North America and Europe arriving in England in 2012 and which spread throughout England in 2013. Female SWD have a serrated ovipositor enabling them to lay eggs in fruit as it starts to ripen, unlike our native Drosophila species that can only lay eggs in overripe fruit. Larvae feed inside the fruit causing a rapid degradation in fruit quality rendering it unmarketable. SWD also thrives on numerous wild hosts which provide a source of infestation in crops. Monitoring adults in crops at risk is vital because control is currently by sprays of insecticides targeted against them. The severity and duration of SWD attacks varies greatly from year to year. Growers deploy traps in crops, in wild habitats nearby and round packhouses to monitor adult abundance. Currently traps, which are not specific and catch a wide range of flies including common non-damaging Drosophila species, are examined and serviced weekly, a skilled and time-consuming job. Identification is by eye with further detailed examination with a hand lens or binocular microscope being required for females. Adults are captured in drowning solution in the base of traps which can rapidly saturate with insects and needs changing weekly. The trap catch information is used to decide where and when to treat crops. When egg laying females have been recorded, a spray of insecticide is applied, the risk period starting when the fruit starts to colour and continuing until there is no ripe fruit present after the end of harvest. Each spray gives 7-10 days protection and further sprays have to be applied to protect the crop throughout the ripening and harvest period, as required depending on adult abundance. A substantive increase in pesticide use results which has adverse environmental consequences as well as seriously disrupting biocontrol agents and Integrated Pest Management.
The accurate monitoring of pest species is key to profitable crop production. By accurate pest monitoring, pesticide use is optimised through improved timing of application and crop losses are minimised. This project will investigate the feasibility of developing a system of autonomous smart monitoring devices for SWD. It will address a vital component of the overall challenge of SWD monitoring: that of making it real-time, remote and easy to implement at multiple sites not relying on local growers or staff to service traps which currently can only realistically be done weekly. The weekly servicing of traps and sorting and identification of catches and replacement of drowning solution practically every soft and stone fruit crop in the UK, Europe and North America is a massive task which will be greatly eased and simplified by our proposed solution.
Whilst the existing manual operation of traps is broadly satisfactory in providing the necessary information on adult SWD attacks, it is far from ideal. The new technology to ease and simplify the monitoring task is already urgently needed and has wide application in the project consortium, in the UK and throughout the soft and stone fruit industries of North America and Europe where SWD is problematic everywhere. It will have a clear and significant industrial impact and benefit in facilitating and improving SWD monitoring on farms and the wider environment.
Beyond the project, the technology will have wide application for numerous different pests of high value crops due to the modular design that will be employed, allowing effective retraining and trap optimisation for multiple different pests.

Publications

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Description Innovate UK open business competition 2017
Amount £522,628 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 08/2019
 
Description Feasibility of developing autonomous SmartTraps for remote monitoring Spotted Wing Drosophila in soft and stone fruit 
Organisation Berry Gardens Growers Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution EMR provide the key entomology and chemical ecology expertise and facilities, national SWD capability and cultures and image analysis and software development expertise for this project. Prof Jerry Cross (PI of this project and leader of the EMR Pest and Pathogen Ecology for Sustainable Crop Management science programme) leads the UK national SWD monitoring and industry funded research programme and with his team of research leaders and technicians has a long track record in the development of new semiochemical trapping systems for pest insects including SWD. EMR entomologists are highly experienced experts in identifying SWD and related Drosophila species as well as in culturing and handling them. Dr Richard Harrison, EMR Genetics and Crop Improvement science programme has key expertise in bioinformatics. Crucially EMR have also just recruited a new Research Leader, Bo Li, with necessary expertise in image analysis and software development who is devoted to the project for 50% of his time.
Collaborator Contribution BERRY GARDENS GROWERS: Richard Harnden, Technical Director, has a proven track record of managing several large LINK and TSB projects. He stimulated the development of this project, and who has had long and close involvement with EMR in numerous projects to develop pest monitoring and management systems, will lead this project ensuring the project progresses according to plan. RUSSELL IPM Ltd: Have key expertise and facilities to develop the hardware with a business based on semiochemical trap development and close involvement in the previous EU e-FlyWatch project. Russell IPM have worked closely and successfully with EMR for some years including in an on-going TSB project to develop a biorefuge for orchards. The company is ideally suited to exploit any business opportunity developed. METEOR COMMUNICATIONS LTD: Their core business is design, building and installation of environmental monitoring and control solutions. They maintain and support sites and services across the UK for customers, which include Water utilities and Government Agencies. R&D to develop new tools to monitor, control and understand the environment is an important part of their business. Their key expertise in data communication, cloud based data bases, software and app. development will be crucial to the development of a SmartTraps system should this feasibility study be successful. Their involvement as a core partner in this project, taking part in business planning activities, is thus highly beneficial.
Impact Owing to the confidential nature of this project, outcomes have not yet been made public
Start Year 2015
 
Description Feasibility of developing autonomous SmartTraps for remote monitoring Spotted Wing Drosophila in soft and stone fruit 
Organisation Meteor Communications Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution EMR provide the key entomology and chemical ecology expertise and facilities, national SWD capability and cultures and image analysis and software development expertise for this project. Prof Jerry Cross (PI of this project and leader of the EMR Pest and Pathogen Ecology for Sustainable Crop Management science programme) leads the UK national SWD monitoring and industry funded research programme and with his team of research leaders and technicians has a long track record in the development of new semiochemical trapping systems for pest insects including SWD. EMR entomologists are highly experienced experts in identifying SWD and related Drosophila species as well as in culturing and handling them. Dr Richard Harrison, EMR Genetics and Crop Improvement science programme has key expertise in bioinformatics. Crucially EMR have also just recruited a new Research Leader, Bo Li, with necessary expertise in image analysis and software development who is devoted to the project for 50% of his time.
Collaborator Contribution BERRY GARDENS GROWERS: Richard Harnden, Technical Director, has a proven track record of managing several large LINK and TSB projects. He stimulated the development of this project, and who has had long and close involvement with EMR in numerous projects to develop pest monitoring and management systems, will lead this project ensuring the project progresses according to plan. RUSSELL IPM Ltd: Have key expertise and facilities to develop the hardware with a business based on semiochemical trap development and close involvement in the previous EU e-FlyWatch project. Russell IPM have worked closely and successfully with EMR for some years including in an on-going TSB project to develop a biorefuge for orchards. The company is ideally suited to exploit any business opportunity developed. METEOR COMMUNICATIONS LTD: Their core business is design, building and installation of environmental monitoring and control solutions. They maintain and support sites and services across the UK for customers, which include Water utilities and Government Agencies. R&D to develop new tools to monitor, control and understand the environment is an important part of their business. Their key expertise in data communication, cloud based data bases, software and app. development will be crucial to the development of a SmartTraps system should this feasibility study be successful. Their involvement as a core partner in this project, taking part in business planning activities, is thus highly beneficial.
Impact Owing to the confidential nature of this project, outcomes have not yet been made public
Start Year 2015
 
Description Feasibility of developing autonomous SmartTraps for remote monitoring Spotted Wing Drosophila in soft and stone fruit 
Organisation Russell IPM (Integrated Pest Management)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution EMR provide the key entomology and chemical ecology expertise and facilities, national SWD capability and cultures and image analysis and software development expertise for this project. Prof Jerry Cross (PI of this project and leader of the EMR Pest and Pathogen Ecology for Sustainable Crop Management science programme) leads the UK national SWD monitoring and industry funded research programme and with his team of research leaders and technicians has a long track record in the development of new semiochemical trapping systems for pest insects including SWD. EMR entomologists are highly experienced experts in identifying SWD and related Drosophila species as well as in culturing and handling them. Dr Richard Harrison, EMR Genetics and Crop Improvement science programme has key expertise in bioinformatics. Crucially EMR have also just recruited a new Research Leader, Bo Li, with necessary expertise in image analysis and software development who is devoted to the project for 50% of his time.
Collaborator Contribution BERRY GARDENS GROWERS: Richard Harnden, Technical Director, has a proven track record of managing several large LINK and TSB projects. He stimulated the development of this project, and who has had long and close involvement with EMR in numerous projects to develop pest monitoring and management systems, will lead this project ensuring the project progresses according to plan. RUSSELL IPM Ltd: Have key expertise and facilities to develop the hardware with a business based on semiochemical trap development and close involvement in the previous EU e-FlyWatch project. Russell IPM have worked closely and successfully with EMR for some years including in an on-going TSB project to develop a biorefuge for orchards. The company is ideally suited to exploit any business opportunity developed. METEOR COMMUNICATIONS LTD: Their core business is design, building and installation of environmental monitoring and control solutions. They maintain and support sites and services across the UK for customers, which include Water utilities and Government Agencies. R&D to develop new tools to monitor, control and understand the environment is an important part of their business. Their key expertise in data communication, cloud based data bases, software and app. development will be crucial to the development of a SmartTraps system should this feasibility study be successful. Their involvement as a core partner in this project, taking part in business planning activities, is thus highly beneficial.
Impact Owing to the confidential nature of this project, outcomes have not yet been made public
Start Year 2015
 
Description SmartTraps Q1 consortium meeting 7 Apr 15 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Development of hardware and software prototypes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SmartTraps Q2 consortium meeting 9 Jul 15 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Development and testing of hardware and software prototypes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SmartTraps Q3 consortium meeting 9 Oct 15 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Development and testing of hardware and software prototypes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SmartTraps project launch meeting 16 Feb 15 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Planning research activities for hardware and software development
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Smarttraps Q4 consortium meeting 8 Jan 16 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Developing and testing of hardware and software prototypes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016