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Knowmatics: The Innovators of an Affordable and Reliable Sensor Network for Small Holder Farmers



The arrival of the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in southern India in 2018 marked a significant challenge to small holder farmers in the region. This highly invasive pest can cause significant damage to crops such as maize, rice, sugarcane, beet, potato, cotton, and grassland. The pest has since spread to over 20 states in India and has become a significant threat to crop productivity.


To address this challenge, a multidisciplinary consortium was formed to develop an affordable, inclusive, and scalable technology for monitoring the Fall Armyworm. Led by the Crop Health and Protection UK Agritech centre (CHAP), the consortium includes CABI, Ystumtec, and Knowmatics, a agrifood and life science data specialist that provided the lead in data science and user research. The project was funded by the UK Government through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)’s Science and Innovation Network in India.


The FCDO is the UK government department responsible for promoting British interests overseas and supporting the sustainable growth of developing countries. The Science and Innovation Network within FCDO sponsored the project and recognised the opportunities that the Knowmatics approach provides for new businesses to develop and extend surveillance networks for the Fall Armyworm and other invasive species.


Knowmatics was instrumental in designing an inexpensive sensor node that could form a network to detect the adult breeding fall armyworm moth. The Knowmatics solution provides a co-operative network of inexpensive sensor nodes that, when combined with local entrepreneurship, can provide supporting services to small holder farmers across large geographical areas. The ultimate topography is a network service that farmers can subscribe to, rather than having to buy individual sensors. This makes the solution more affordable and accessible to small holder farmers in India and sub-Saharan Africa.


The Knowmatics solution provides farmers with pest risk intelligence over a large area around their farm. This intelligence is critical for farmers to implement appropriate pest control that supports more sustainable farming, reduces costs on the farm, and lifts socio-economic outcomes. The solution also provides valuable data to researchers and actionable insights to agricultural extension services. This capability is essential in understanding the dynamics of the fall armyworm infestation and developing appropriate control strategies.


The approach is a critical step in the fight against invasive species in crops. The solution provides farmers with access to affordable and reliable digital services that they can use to monitor the Fall Armyworm and other invasive species. The solution also provides valuable data to researchers and actionable insights to agricultural extension services. This capability is vital in developing appropriate control strategies for invasive species in crops.




Knowmatics data scientists also developed a progressive web app that informs small holder farmers of fall armyworm observations within appropriate distances of their crops. This innovative solution was combined with a knowledge base based on content from the CABI Fall Armyworm handbook.

The progressive web app is an important component of the Knowmatics solution. It provides farmers with real-time information about fall armyworm observations near their crops, enabling them to take appropriate pest control measures. This technology is essential in areas where the Fall Armyworm infestation is spreading fast and causing significant damage to crops.

The progressive web app was designed to be user-friendly and accessible to small holder farmers. It is easy to use and provides valuable information that farmers can use to monitor the fall armyworm and other invasive species. The app is also compatible with a wide range of devices, making it accessible to farmers with varying levels of digital literacy.



In conclusion, the Knowmatics solution is a potential game changer for small holder farmers in India and sub-Saharan Africa. The solution provides an affordable, reliable, and scalable technology that farmers can use to monitor the fall armyworm and other invasive species. The solution also provides valuable data to researchers and actionable insights to agricultural extension services. The Knowmatics solution was made possible with the support and sponsorship of the FCDO’s Science and Innovation Network in India, and it provides opportunities for new businesses to develop and extend surveillance networks for the Fall Armyworm and other invasive species.

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