ANGEL, NETHERLANDS (AP) – Dutch crab grower Rob Bann has called in high-tech helpers to fight pests in his greenhouses. Palm-sized drones search for and destroy moths that produce larvae that can chew their crop.
“I have unique products where you do not receive certification for spraying chemicals, I do not want that,” said Ban in an interview in a greenhouse with a pink glow of LED lights that help his seedlings grow. His company, Koppert Cress, exports fragrant saplings, plants and flowers to the best restaurants in the world.
Strongly embracing innovative technology in its greenhouses, Baan turned to PATS Indoor Drone Solutions, a startup that develops autonomous drone systems as greenhouse keepers to add another layer of plant protection.
Drones themselves are fundamental, but they are guided by intelligent technology aided by special cameras that scan the airspace of greenhouses.
Drones instantly kill moths by flying into them, destroying them in the air.
“So he sees the moth flying, he knows where the drone is … և it’s just pointing the drone at the moth,” said Kevin van Hecken, PATS ‘chief technical officer.
There were no moths during a recent visit to The Associated Press greenhouse, but the company released a video shot in a controlled environment showing how one bug was immediately sprayed by a drone rotor.
Drones are part of a range of pest control systems in Baan greenhouses, including other bugs, pheromone traps and bumblebees.
The drone system is the brainchild of former Delft Technical University students who came up with the idea, wondering if they would be able to use drones to kill mosquitoes smoking around their rooms at night.
The thing is, the drone control system is smart enough to tell the difference between good and bad gauges.
He said. “You do not want to kill the ladybug, because the cocktail is very useful against aphids.” “So they should kill the bad, not the good. And the good ones are sometimes very expensive. I pay at least 50 cents for one bumblebee, so I do not want them to kill my bumblebees. ”
The young company is still working to improve the technology.
“It is still a product of development, but we have very good results. We target moths; we remove moths autonomously every night without human intervention, ”said PATS Executive Director Bram Timmons. “I think it’s a good step forward.”
Baan also acknowledges that the system still needs improvement.
“I think they still need a lot of drones … but it will be manageable, it will be less,” he said. “I think they can do this greenhouse in the future, maybe with 50 small drones, so it’s very useful.”