Sound spies come to crunch

17 September 1999

Sound spies come to crunch

LISTENING to the bugs munching your crops could help tailor control strategies in future.

Novel computer software developed by researchers at the University of Hull can now identify the species of insect attacking a crop by the sounds it makes – be that in the field, the greenhouse or the store, reports The Sunday Times.

The sophisticated software screens out background noise, analysing the sounds made as insects feed, move and communicate. Each insect species makes characteristic noises, so species identification is now feasible, the report claims.

David Chesmore, inventor of the system, says it is sensitive enough to detect a weevil eating inside grain and could even pick up the specific noise made by an insect landing on a leaf.

Growers could use the technology to identify pest attack earlier than with visual assessment, and with greater confidence about the species involved. That could ensure the right control techniques are deployed at the right time.

Ultimately growers may be able to place black box analysers in fields to give early warning of pest attack. That could make the use of species-specific sprays or so-called smart-traps more practical, so reducing environmental impacts.

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