Scientists at the University of Aberdeen are pioneering the use of drones in order to help monitor the damage caused by the fruit fly Drosophila suzukii. They hope the drone can give growers early warning of infestations so that they can better protect their crops.
Experts have warned the pest could cause losses of up to 80 per cent of Scotland’s multi-million-pound soft fruit industry. Early detection is crucial to preventing devastating damage to crops and in this way the drones are expected to help.
“Current monitoring methods usually involve manually checking traps for signs of the fruit fly, which is very time-consuming and inefficient if you are going from trap to trap over acres of land. “We are aiming to develop an automated system where drones fitted with cameras would fly over so-called ‘sticky traps’ which would trap the fly but in a way that allows it to be identified from the air," Dr. David Green, from the university’s department of geography and the environment, said.
The project, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, also involves Dr Johannes Fahrentrapp, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland, and Dr Lammert Kooistra, University of Wageningen.