Dutch Companies Testing Drones for Moth Control in Gerbera

PATS Indoor Drone SolutionsPATS Indoor Drone Solutions, a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, is confronting the challenge of controlling flying pest insects with a new sustainable enemy. The company is deploying small drones that automate control and prevention of Golden twin-spot moth, with help from several Dutch innovative gerbera growers.

The pilot started in June, after which tests will be conducted continuously for 10 weeks in a test greenhouse planted with gerberas at the World Horta Center. The grower trials are partially funded by the IPC scheme and research by Inno-Agro and the cooperatives of Gerbera and Chrysanthemum. In collaboration with Demokwekerij Westland, the parties will repeatedly measure the effectiveness of the solution on the population of Golden twin-spot moth (Chrysodeixis chalcites).

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“The objective of the pilot is not only to measure effectiveness, but also to improve technology,” says Sjoerd Tijmons of PATS. “The drones are taught specific flight behavior similar to the agile flight behavior of this moth.”

In the summer of 2018, PATS started with a small test set-up at Holstein Flowers, a gerbera nursery in The Lier, The Netherlands. The first results were positive, after which the group of growers became interested in the technology.

According to Jeroen Sanders, researcher at Demokwekerij Westland, there are currently insufficient effective means available to combat adult flying insects.

PATS sees its technology not only as an addition to the current available set of control solutions. In the long term the system must also reduce the need for bioinsecticides for specific pests, and it is hoped that growers will have to spend less time on pest monitoring and control.

“The goal is to have our system control the Golden twin-spot moth population entirely, as it will act as a targeted and preventive approach,’ says Bram Tijmons, co-founder of PATS. “In the next few years, we will be adding support for different types of flying insects as well.”

Once the pilot is complete, the parties involved intend to scale the tests to a larger greenhouse.