• Ellis Gelios

New pest-trapping tech to transform horticultural surveillance


A new range of technology that focuses on identifying pests and lurking diseases in agricultural areas is set to be made available in South Australian regions.


The technology - a pest-trapping robot costing $A100,000 deployed off the back of a trailer, has the capability to perform a range of advanced fundamental tasks, significantly aiding farmers and horticulturalists.


It features high-volume air samplers deployed to collect airborne fungal follicles and machinery which can assemble migratory bugs within a radius of 80kms with added thrust from wind currents.


Seventeen organisations have collaborated to drive the initiative which carries an overall cost of $A21m.


The robot, known as the Sentinel 7, will deploy at Naracoorte in SA's southeast after an 8-week period in the Adelaide Hills region.


Byron de Kock, Hort’s Innovation Head of Research and Development, said the completion of the project signified a scientific milestone that took two years to finalise and included the involvement of growers as part of the process.

“Exotic or unwanted plant pests put the nation’s $32B broadacre, horticulture and forestry industries at great risk.”
“Through this project, we have been able to create a purpose-built unit that has been refined through previous iterations and is mobile, easy to use and most importantly, really effective at detecting and trapping pests.”
“The innovative device also boasts an automatic online dashboard that presents data to growers to review in real time.”

Dr Rohan Kimber, a senior scientist at the South Australian Research and Development Institute, highlighted the fact that in his belief, the launch of the Sentinel 7 showcases the superiority of modern technology for industries.

“Sentinel 7 is a user-friendly, flexible and optimised mobile surveillance device that offers industry an opportunity to adapt to dynamic growing conditions and stay on the front foot of managing pests and diseases”.

Grower Richard Cobbledick said the Sentinel 7 launch presented exciting future prospects for growers with the elimination of menial pest control.

“I’m really keen to see how the information generated by these high-tech devices can be extended to a system where I get a ping on my phone with a warning or alert to look out for a particular pest or disease,” Mr Cobbledick said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the technology develops and delivers to industry.”

According to data published by the CSIRO, the peak government agency, the combined cost of damages to Australian agriculture sites as a result of lingering pests and wildlife is $A25 billion a year and is on track to blow out further.