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

Lead Research Organisation: National Inst of Agricultural Botany
Department Name: Centre for Research

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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BB/M018105/1 01/01/2015 31/01/2016 £104,465
BB/M018105/2 Transfer BB/M018105/1 01/02/2016 30/06/2016 £30,109
 
Description The goal of the project was to 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.
All the goals of this project have been met:
1. Feasibility of developing an autonomous trap
The feasibility of developing an autonomous trap has been fully demonstrated. During the project, a prototype which is autonomous, compact, non-saturating and automatically captures images of each individual entering has been developed.
2. Feasibility of automatically identifying SWD males and females from images generated by the trap
Algorithms have been developed for identifying male and female SWD with success rates of >96%. Algorithms also identify other Drosophila sp with 90% success and will reject non-Drosophila sp with an even higher success rate. The software runs on Linux and it is possible in future to develop a trap with necessary internal image processing power or the images could be processed externally on a server.
Exploitation Route Extensive further work to develop a full system based on the proved concept is currently in progress in a 2 1/2 year Innovate UK follow on project by the same consortium. Two business opportunities have been identified: 1) to develop and sell the SmartTrap system internationally; 2) to provide ongoing servicing, data exchange and trending/zoning to users internationally.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description A 2 1/2 year Innovate UK funded follow on project to develop a full system by the same consortium partners is currently in progress
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

 
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 Innovate UK SmartTraps feasibility project Q5 review 15 April 16 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Quarterly review of progress of the project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Innovate UK SmartTraps feasibility project final close out meeting 8 Jul 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 The close out meeting for the project was held, with Innovate UK lead Tech and external industry representatives in attendance, along with the project participants. The full project from inception to completion was overviewed and detailed exploitation plans presented.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016