A horticulture company called Koppert Cress has been looking for a chemical-free solution that can protect its crops from being eaten by insects. Dutch cress grower and owner of the company Rob Baan decided to approach the startup called PATS Indoor Drone Solutions to help them provide an automated solution to protect their crops in greenhouses.
“I have unique products where you don’t get certification to spray chemicals and I don’t want it,” said Baan in an interview with Associated Press. Thus, in August 2019, the two companies signed an agreement to automate the crop protection process with drones. Using PATS’ expertise in creating drones in aiding horticulture, they were able to test a small, agile drone for Baan and the team to utilize in a separate growing environment. They confirmed that the tests yielded positive results.
Insect pests, and moths in particular, are the thorn in the side of many crop managers. @PatsDrones is developing the craziest way yet to disable moths in our crops: autonomous drones. Read more: https://t.co/wNIJL4BKAb #koppertcress #patsdrones pic.twitter.com/dmYWCrHORB
— Koppert Cress (@koppertcress) November 3, 2020
Bat-like drones to control insects
PATS was formed by a group of students in the Netherlands who were trying to look for ways to kill mosquitos in their dorm rooms. In this case, their drone’s design is inspired by bats, one of nature’s most awesome predators. It has the same monitoring systems as PATS-C and PATS-X. The small size also helps in being agile while killing off harmful pests in the greenhouses.
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The drone itself doesn’t have a complex design, with cameras attached to scan the airspace in a greenhouse. However, what’s interesting about the PATS drone is that it can differentiate the good insects from the bad ones, destroying only those that will bring harm to the crop. It also provides insights into the breeding zones of pests, providing a penetrative chemical-free solution.
PATS! We are proud to announce our collaboration with @koppertcress. Earlier in August we started a test trial to automate part of the crop protection process with drones. This contributes to the sustainable cultivation principle Koppert Cress stands for.https://t.co/WH0hwwtDVy pic.twitter.com/y8W9xQTY5p
— PATS (@PatsDrones) August 15, 2019
What’s more, the PATS drone has a base station that scans the environment for potential insects and launches a drone to chase and manually kill it mid-air. After the job is done, the drone returns to the station to wait for the next request.
Working together with medical communities, food industries, and different cities in the Netherlands, Koppert Cress grows its produce in greenhouses to provide to restaurants all over the world, standing by its motto that “good food is real food”. They’ve been looking for sustainable solutions to produce organic ingredients specific to a country’s or a community’s culture and cuisine. With help from the PATS drone, this will help the company’s goal in providing various communities food made out of pesticide-free ingredients.
YouTube: PATS – Bat-like Drones for Insect Control
Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been taken by Petr Sevcovic.
Source: Mike Corder (Associated Press)