James Bell of Rothamsted Research in the United Kingdom will test an integrated surveillance system for the real-time detection of ground and upper atmospheric levels of the fall armyworm, which is a moth that devastates maize crops. Maize is a vital food source in Kenya but is currently largely imported and has become too expensive for most households. They propose to help local farmers grow maize by developing an early warning system for the African moth pests. Their system will integrate an entomological radar to detect moths flying up to 1,200 metres overhead, with twenty ground traps covering 7,000 km2 that transmit data to a central institute, and a smart-phone application for workers and growers that automatically detects the caterpillars and moths. They will optimize the equipment and software to detect the specific moth species and test it in a region of Western Kenya over one year. Their system will also reveal details of seasonal moth migrations, ground spread, and crop growth to help develop effective pest management strategies.
More information about Tools and Technologies for Broad-Scale Disease Surveillance of Crop Plants in Low-Income Countries (Round 21)