Californian agtech startup FarmSense has developed a new digital insect monitoring sensor for remote field monitoring and real-time insect classification. FlightSensor uses novel optical sensor technology that connects wirelessly to the cloud to automate the process of real-time insect classification and counting, providing immediate access for farmers to make mission-critical decisions on crop and pest control.
The new monitoring system will help farmers lower pesticide and insecticide use by optimising their application in both space and time. The sensor comes in a variety of sizes, and the algorithm can be adjusted depending on what insects a farmer needs to monitor.
Machine learning and entomology
The smart system started as an academic collaboration, but co-founders Eamonn Keogh and Shailendra Singh quickly identified the benefits of real-world application. “The machine learning community examines data in so many other areas, like healthcare and credit scoring, but surprisingly, no one was tackling entomology,” says Keogh. “This technology virtually eliminates the need for sticky traps and manual insect counts.”
“FarmSense’s technology is a real game-changer,” added Dr. Mark Hoddle, a field entomologist and an early customer at the University of California Riverside. “The insect analytics they provide allows me to really understand what is happening in specific areas of the orchard in near real-time. Better yet, the data is accessible via my phone and downloadable for analysis, making quick decisions easy.”
To develop the technology, the team obtained US$7.5 million in academic funding including multiple Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Awards, the Vodafone Wireless Innovation Award, and multiple National Science Foundation Awards. Most recently the company was awarded three SBIR awards to commercialize its technology.
The new smart pest monitoring system is currently only offered to selected partners, but will be rolled out to all in January 2021. Meanwhile, FarmSense is actively seeking investors for its current funding round to help it focus on further expansion.
Image Sources: FarmSense