Using IoT and Cellular to Trap and Count Agricultural Pests

Sunday 6/25/23 12:12pm
Posted By Morris Novello
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Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

When your livelihood depends on harvesting high crop yields, you welcome technology that allows monitoring your fields from the phone.

Bayer's Crop Protection Innovation Lab (Bayer) has developed the MagicTrap, a smart insect trap that facilitates sustainable crop protection through the Internet of Things (IoT). Designed with Atlantik Elektronik and Thundercomm Technology Co., Ltd. (Thundercomm). MagicTrap uses the Qualcomm® QCM2290 system on chip (SoC) to automate inspection in fields where rapeseed is harvested.

Protecting the harvest

Grown for both culinary and industrial uses, oilseed rape or canola is an important source of vegetable oil globally. But like any crop, it can’t get to market if pests attack it while it’s still on the plant. The pollen beetle, flea beetle, and weevil species are dangerous pests in rapeseed cultivation; a broad infestation can lead to total crop failure.

Farmers are keen to monitor the incidence of pests in their fields. They can tolerate low levels of infestation, but if numbers rise, they need to intervene to protect the crop yield.

Alongside the yellow-flowering rapeseed plants, farmers have long placed similarly colored pest traps in their fields. But even the most effective of traditional traps still requires a trip out to the field for manual examination and maintenance, burdening farmers with yet another frequent task.

Building a better pest trap

To enable farmers to detect pests early, Bayer turned to Atlantik Elektronik to design and build a better trap. Shown below, MagicTrap is similar in shape and function to typical traps. While the yellow color of the trap body attracts the pests, the bowl contains water with a little drop of dishwashing liquid to make the insects immobile. The grid prevents larger beneficial insects, such as bees and bumble bees, from entering the trap.

MagicTrap adds important improvements to traditional designs:

  • A water tank that always replenishes fresh water and protects the trap from drying out.
  • A golf ball-like ground structure in which insects deposit separately and which simplifies image recognition
  • It includes a high-resolution camera that takes images of the inside of the trap regularly.
  • It sends the images to the cloud over the cellular network..
  • The images are automatically evaluated by an AI model for the quantity and the species of pests detected in the trap.
  • The results are made available in the MagicScout app, which farmers can run on a smartphone, as shown below.

MagicTrap counts and detects the insects automatically. Farmers no longer have to drive around the fields every day to check traps; instead, they receive an image from the interior of the traps on their device. With MagicTrap, farmers can identify the intensity and location of any infestation, then apply crop protection products when appropriate.

MagicTrap is built around Thundercomm’s TurboX C2290 System on Module (SoM). The SoM, which is based on the QCM2290, combines important, entry-level capabilities: performance, low power consumption, cost-effectiveness and image quality. Ideal for tracking, retail, industrial handheld and camera applications, the SoM serves as the farmer’s eyes in the field, counting trapped pests and sending the data to the cloud.

Besides saving farmers time and effort, MagicTrap introduces sustainability and low environmental impact to pest detection.

  • After an initial charge each season from an AC source, a small solar panel on the trap continues to charge the battery and powers the SoM.
  • The trap automatically chooses the cellular network with the strongest signal to send images and data.
  • The trap has a special reservoir that minimizes evaporation in hot weather, allowing it to release water for up to two weeks.

An ecosystem project

Bayer is focused on digital solutions to modern and sustainable farming. MagicTrap is just the first example, allowing farmers to monitor crops more efficiently and apply protective measures more precisely while reducing environmental impact and cost.

MagicTrap represents an ecosystem effort by Bayer, Atlantik Elektronik and Thundercomm, with 1NCE providing connectivity, ease of access and worldwide availability for IoT. Atlantik Elektronik provided local project management, sales and technical support and drew upon global expertise in IoT solutions from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Thundercomm.

Find out more about the QCM2290 and how you can incorporate it to your IoT designs.

Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.