FarmSense uses sensors and machine learning to bug-proof crops – TechCrunch
Gnawing, burrowing, infecting: The damages caused to agriculture by insect pests like the Japanese beetle (pictured above) exceed $100 billion every year, according to the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA. And along with plant diseases, which the exoskeleton buggers can also transmit, arthropods account for the annual 40% loss of agricultural production worldwide.
Enter FarmSense, a Riverside, California-based agtech startup attempting to solve the insect pest problem. The company creates optical sensors and novel classification systems based on machine learning algorithms to identify and track insects in real time. The key here: real-time information.
They claim real-time information provided by their sensors allows for early detection and thus the timely deployment of pest-management tools, such as insecticide or biocontrols. The current mechanical traps used for monitoring may only yield important intel 10 to 14 days after the bugs’ arrival.
“Some of these bugs only live as adults for like five days, so by the time you know you have a problem, the problem has already taken root and is now a bigger problem,” said Eamonn Keogh, a co-founder of FarmSense. “Had you known about it in real time, you could have localized the intervention to just one location and had a much better outcome, saving pesticide, saving labor and saving the crop from being damaged.”
How they can provide the information critical for achieving those better outcomes is a bit complicated.