Amit Lal of Geegah LLC in the U.S. will develop battery-powered ultrasonic imagers to collect and wirelessly transmit high-resolution images of soil and airborne pests for the early detection of crop threats across large farming areas in rural Africa. Crop losses due to pest infestation negatively impact both food security and local economies. Damage caused by nematodes is particularly difficult to detect because the symptoms visible above ground are not unique and are often incorrectly attributed to deficiencies in soil nutrients or moisture. Currently the only way to test for nematodes is through root and soil samples taken after harvest, when it is too late to respond to an infestation. They will integrate complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS) with GHz ultrasonic imagers to detect nematodes and survey soil properties over large areas to detect infestations before crop damage occurs and transmit the data in real time. They will optimize the sensor technology in a controlled laboratory setting to maximize sensitivity and specificity and minimize power consumption and then transition to a farm setting for incorporating data transmission via the radio frequency wireless network.
More information about Tools and Technologies for Broad-Scale Pest and Disease Surveillance of Crop Plants in Low-Income Countries (Round 22)