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IoTree, a cutting edge low-cost, low-energy and highly sensitive solution for early detection of pests attacking trees.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IoTree (IoTree, a cutting edge low-cost, low-energy and highly sensitive solution for early detection of pests attacking trees.)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2018-09-30

Transboundary plant pests affect crops and farms, causing significant losses to farmers and threatening food security. The spread of these pests has increased dramatically in recent years even reaching epidemic proportions. The economic significance of a pest following introduction depends not only on the value of the threatened commodity but also the ability to manage or mitigate the impact via multiple means. As tree borers grows inside the tree, well hidden from human eye, the detection process is a challenge. Indeed, visible signs and symptoms of attack appear only when it is too late to save the tree. Every pest shows different behaviours and at the moment there is no systematic mean of pest detection available on the market. The use of collective, extensive pesticide spraying still represents the main preventive measure adopted. But this strategy is highly inefficient and costly with the subsequent environmental damage to soil, water and other organisms, and the risk of resistance to the substance.

In the future’s agri-food industry, effective pest management will be a necessary, not a discretionary, service. With global food production set to increase by 50% by 2050, outbreaks of plant pests may have devastating effects on the quality of our lives and our economy. The monetary impact of a pest infestation can directly affect a farmer’s bottom line but the negative impact goes far beyond the financials and may affect the food safety of an entire region. The latest data indicate that pests reduce the yield of agricultural crops in the world for 42% and in Europe for 28%. Trees also provide a wide range of ecosystem services as well of timber, fuel, fruit and shelter and of course, they contribute immeasurably to the landscape and our quality of life.

To this end, we have developed the IoTree®, a unique pest detection platform based on a low-cost, low energy sensor which can be installed on any tree. The sensor is highly sensitive to the slightest movement of the larvae even in its early stages of development, yet sophisticated enough to filter out anything that could lead to a false alarm. No matter the size of the tree or larvae, our sensor will provide early detection of insects activity. The IoTree® platform has initially been developed targeting for the Red Palm Weevil, and is currently being used in palm plantations in several locations. It is now our goal to further develop the platform for the detection of many other pests threatening EU´s trees, miniaturize the system and improve its communication protocols. The SME-I is pivotal in this strategy to quickly bring to the market this much needed innovation.
We evaluated in detail the current stage of development and, given the successful results from the detection of the Red Palm Weevil, decided to expand the technology for the detection of other relevant pests in the EU. Scaling up from the single market (palms) to multiple growing markets significantly de-risks the entire project, and increases our company’s value and competitiveness.

Communications protocols will be improved and the entire system will be miniaturized in order to reduce the bill of materials as well as to enhance customer´s gut feeling of the product. During the project, we have also confirmed the implication of key stakeholders in the value chain, assessing their capability to meet large demands. Contract manufacturer and mechanical advisor, system miniaturisation advisor, components suppliers, cloud services and distributors are now secured for the successful completion of the project.

With promising growth projections and considering the overall results of the Phase 1 assessment, we have concluded that it will be worthwhile to follow-up with the implementation of the development and commercialization plan, for which the SME-I can provide sufficient resources to carry out the project described here, co-funded by the financial and operational capacity of the company. This will allow the implementation activities to be performed in the most suitable conditions and will result in a faster market entry.
Current techniques for pest detection have difficulties with scaling into large-scale commercial solution. In addition they cannot supply early detection in an urban environment and do not provide immediate and on-going monitoring of the tree. We are the first company using very sensitive sensors for the early detection of the pests in trees, generating automatic alarms even when just one larvae is found. The IoTree® works in every environment, guarantees unparalleled accuracy 24/7 coupled with easy and cost-effective implementation.

In the past 50 years, there have been several major outbreaks that have drastically reduced the densities of particular tree species and pests will always be with us. As we come in contact with species which previously have not affected our trees or bothered us, innovative pest management solutions will be highly needed. IoTree’s platform is now ready to meet this need and business opportunity.

IoTree® allows farmers to safeguard the future revenue from the tree and protect the environment. By using IoTree® the farmer will be able to identify and spray just the infected tree rather than the entire plantation, thus reducing the amount of applied pesticide –decreasing the costs drastically while improving the quality of the fruits, which is also of great benefit for the environment. The complete sensing solution ensures pests management savings in the range of 40-60% per tree.
IoTree installed in a palm