Helping farmers detain pests – VPDaD

August 9th, 2017

Helping farmers detain pests – VPDad

Using our new smart technology, farmers can automatically deter vertebrate pests like elephants, birds and rabbits from damaging millions of dollars of crops.

The challenge

Pests causing a $1 billion a year problem for farmers

Crop-destroying animal pests cause many millions of dollars’ worth of damage to farmers and agriculture business every year. In Africa, elephants can destroy an entire season’s worth of crops in one night, devastating farming communities and villages’ foodstocks and wellbeing.

Here in Australia, the agriculture industry is concerned with protecting crops on farms and orchards from vertebrate pest animals such as birds, rabbits, feral pigs, buffalo and wallabies. It’s estimated these pests cost the Australian economy up to $1 billion a year.

There are many different types of deterrents on the market at the moment, but the problem with most of them is that some animals become de-sensitised to them in a relatively short period of time.

Our response

New technology to keep pests at bay

Our scientists have developed a new technology to save crops from being destroyed by pest animals, and have successfully trialed it in Gabon, Africa.

The new technology is called Vertebrate Pest Detect-and-Deter (VPDaD) and consists of two core technologies: motion sensing devices with deterring lights and sounds (VPDaD devices) and sophisticated thermal and colour camera sensing devices called Sentinels.

The VPDaD devices include infrared technology that can pick up heat signatures of an animal, and apply built-in lights and sounds to scare off pests. Ideally, these devices are deployed at approximately 20 metre intervals around the area being protected.

The Sentinel is a suite of thermal and visible light cameras that capture images of the animals. It processes the information in real-time and sends the information to the VPDaD devices which can be used to activate or not activate their lights or sounds.

Together, the intelligent technology can identify approaching animals to select the appropriate deterrent.

The VPDaD devices and the Sentinel monitors the target animals’ response, and if the deterrent is deemed ineffective, CSIRO’s technology will try a different deterrent.

The results

Deterring pests in Africa and Australia

In addition to looking at how animals respond to perceived threats, our scientists are looking at longer-term aspects, such as analysing deterrent effectiveness and animal movements over seasons.

We’re undertaking feasibility tests of the technology in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley, and we’re looking to partner with Australian agribusiness to continue testing and trialing it to protect Australian crops against vertebrate pests such as ducks, cockatoos, rabbits, feral pigs, wallabies, foxes and dingoes.

Originally published by CSIRO News on 9 August 2017.