FAW Surveillance as a Service: Empowering Small Holder Farmers with Data and Technology
In the realm of agriculture, the saying "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it" holds particular significance, especially when addressing the relentless challenge posed by invasive alien pest species. Small holder farmers, who form the backbone of our global food supply, often find themselves in a precarious position when their livelihoods come under attack by pests like the Fall Armyworm (FAW). The trouble with these invasive species lies in their unpredictable movement patterns and the uncertainty of their impact in new environments. To empower farmers with timely and informed decision-making, we must not only comprehend the immediate threat but also provide valuable insights that can shape national and regional strategies and guide popu
lation dynamics research for sustainable farming.
At Knowmatics, we recognised this critical need a couple of years ago and embarked on a journey to develop a practical solution using sensor networks. Our goal was simple yet transformative: to gain a comprehensive understanding of the presence and movement of invasive pest species across vast geographical areas. While substantial progress had been made using advanced technologies like vertical radar and suction traps for tracking migrating pests, these approaches were not suitable for our target species, the Fall Armyworm, particularly in the context of low-tech, low-income small holder farming settings.
With the generous support of the UK FCDO, our research led to the our prototype of smart network nodes, each with a cost-effective bill of materials totalling less than $60. These nodes are built on the foundation of established and reliable pheromone monitoring techniques. Currently, we are conducting tests in an area located 650 kilometers south of Chennai, India, where a research network of these nodes is providing invaluable data. Based on the promising results from our summer 2023 trials, we are planning efficacy trials for 2024. These trials will involve the deployment of two networks, collectively covering a total area of 279 sq
uare kilometers, all while transmitting critical data back to our research surveillance servers.
In addition to the deployment of these innovative sensor networks, we're developing on a Progressive Web App (PWA) that will serve as a vital tool for both farmers and export advisors. This PWA will empower farmers with real-time information and guidance based on the data collected by our surveillance network. It will provide personalised insights and actionable advice to help them protect their crops effectively. Export advisors will benefit from comprehensive data-driven content, enabling them to make informed decisions to support growers . With this technology at their fingertips, farmers and advisors can navigate the challenges posed by FAW and enhance agricultural productivity, ultimately ensuring food security for communities worldwide.
Understanding pest dynamics over expansive regions is a pivotal step in formulating effective strategies to combat the threats posed by invasive pests like FAW. Our innovative approach, "surveillance as a service," is poised to play a pivotal role in achieving this objective. By bridging the gap between data and actionable insights, we aim to empower small holder farmers and safeguard their crops, ensuring food security for communities around the world. Together, we can harness the power of technology and data to protect those who feed the world.