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Counting on a high-tech pest patrol.

Counting on a high-tech pest patrol

Electronic infrared sensors may someday replace the stroll through the field to assess the number of crop-eating insects. Last month, after four years of testing prototype systems, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) laboratory in Weslaco, Tex., installed a demonstration model of a "ground-based remote sensing' system on a farm near Austin. Developed by USDA entomologist Donovan E. Hendricks, the field system consists of portable sensors that transmit radio signals to a standard personal computer at farm headquarters. Sex pheromones are used to "bait' the sensors, which send coded messages each time flying insects pass through their infrared beams.

The system could be adapted for "any crop, any pest, any time of year,' Hendricks told SCIENCE NEWS. He says that moths alone cause $7 million to $10 million in crop damage each year. More important than the economic benefits, says Hendricks, is knowing the current number of insects in a field, thus avoiding the "indiscriminate use' of pesticides.
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Title Annotation:electronic infrared sensors used to assess number of crop-eating insects in a field
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 5, 1987
Words:167
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