Nav: Home

Farmers to tackle locust swarms armed with new app

February 13, 2020

A new smartphone app to tackle pests destroying crops has been developed - and it could soon help farmers whose lands are being decimated by swarms of locusts, something the UN has called for "rapid action" action on.

The team of researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, has designed and built the specialist app, called MAESTRO*, which can recognise locusts and grasshopper pests through the smartphone's camera and record their GPS location.

The aim is for farmers to use the app to record the location and volume of locusts to enable the targeted delivery of pesticides to prevent swarms from spreading and decimating crops in their path. The next stage is the development of a cloud server which the app data will be uploaded to so that the pest's location can be identified in real time.

This potential targeted approach enables the precise use of pesticides to reduce the magnitude of locust swarms.

In January the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that a Desert Locust outbreak in the Horn of Africa could provoke a humanitarian crisis as swarms of the pest continue to migrate and devastate crops in its path, and is calling for urgent international support to fight the worsening upsurge.

Dr Bashir Al-Diri from the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln led the study. He said: "Each year, approximately 18 million hectares of land are damaged by locusts and grasshoppers, impacting hugely on farmers and their productivity.

"Monitoring techniques currently rely on field surveys by people through digging insect eggs, but this information only helps farmers to make mid and long-term forecasting decisions and can delay effective management measures.

"Our goal is to help farmers identify and record the spread of locusts on their land before they start to develop air borne swarms. We hope this new app will eventually put more knowledge and more power into the hands of the farmers. They will be able to predict insect population and spread, and act quickly and accurately to save their crops."

To build the new software, the scientific team gathered more than 3,500 images of locusts to train the system behind the app, which can also recognise a variety of terrain and plant growth.

With its advanced computer vision technology, the developers hope that the app framework will be used for a wide range of other applications in the future to capture and document key crop pests and diseases.

For example, it could easily be adapted to help individuals identify plant diseases and access expert advice on how to combat them, or to digitally capture the number and type of birds and wildlife in specific locations as part of national and international surveys.
Dr Al-Diri and his team of researchers are part of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology at the University of Lincoln, which aims to support and enhance productivity, efficiency and sustainability in food and farming through research, education and new technology.

This study is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council's AgTech China Newton Fund.

The app can be downloaded for free directly to a smartphone of PC by visiting, and the dataset is also available via the same link.

Details of the app have been published in the Springer Nature journal Scientific Reports.

University of Lincoln

Related Pesticides Articles:

Wasps' gut microbes help them -- and their offspring -- survive pesticides
Exposure to the widely used pesticide atrazine leads to heritable changes in the gut microbiome of wasps, finds a study publishing Feb.
A proposal to change environmental risk assessment for pesticides
Despite regulatory frameworks designed to prevent environmental damage, pesticide use is still linked to declines in insects, birds and aquatic species, an outcome that raises questions about the efficacy of current regulatory procedures.
SDHI pesticides are toxic for human cells
French scientists led by a CNRS researcher have just revealed that eight succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor pesticide molecules do not just inhibit the SDH activity of fungi, but can also block that of earthworms, bees, and human cells in varying proportions.
Pesticides deliver a one-two punch to honey bees
A new paper in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry reveals that adjuvants, chemicals commonly added to pesticides, amplify toxicity affecting mortality rates, flight intensity, colony intensity, and pupae development in honey bees.
Hypertension found in children exposed to flower pesticides
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine found higher blood pressure and pesticide exposures in children associated with a heightened pesticide spraying period around the Mother's Day flower harvest.
Banned pesticides in Europe's rivers
Tests of Europe's rivers and canals have revealed more than 100 pesticides -- including 24 that are not licensed for use in the EU.
The persistence of pesticides threatens European soils
A study developed by researchers from the Diverfarming project finds pesticide residues in the soils of eleven European countries in six different cropping systems
Honeybees at risk from Zika pesticides
Up to 13 percent of US beekeepers are in danger of losing their colonies due to pesticides sprayed to contain the Zika virus, new research suggests.
Alternatives to pesticides -- Researchers suggest popular weeds
Research proves that extracts from S. nigrum and D. stramonium, globally existing weed species, may help to protect crop systems against agricultural pests.
Seeing pesticides spread through insect bodies
Osaka University-led team provides insights into the distribution of pesticides within insects using a newly developed method of insect sample preparation.
More Pesticides News and Pesticides Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#555 Coronavirus
It's everywhere, and it felt disingenuous for us here at Science for the People to avoid it, so here is our episode on Coronavirus. It's ok to give this one a skip if this isn't what you want to listen to right now. Check out the links below for other great podcasts mentioned in the intro. Host Rachelle Saunders gets us up to date on what the Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we know and don't know with Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. And...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at